News / Asia

S. Korea Offers Condolences to North

The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is laid in a memorial palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, December 20, 2011.
The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is laid in a memorial palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, December 20, 2011.

South Korea has offered its condolences to the North Korean people a day after the world learned of the death of ruler Kim Jong Il.  The Seoul government was caught off guard by the news of his passing, amounting to what some say is an intelligence failure.  The South is scrapping plans to turn on provocative Christmas lights along the demilitarized zone.

Speaking after a presidential cabinet meeting on Tuesday, South Korean Minister of Unification Yu Woo-ik spoke on behalf of the government and addressed the people of North Korea.

He says the government conveys a consolation to North Korean citizens for the death of the chairman Kim Jong Il.

Yu says no official delegation will be sent to Pyongyang to attend Kim’s funeral on December 28. But Seoul will allow Lee Hee-ho, the wife of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, and Hyun Jung-eun, chairwoman of the Hyundai Group, to visit North Korea to offer their personal condolences.  Both families had met with Kim Jong Il, in the past, during efforts to improve political and business relations with the North.

Also on Tuesday, lawmakers in the South Korean National Assembly questioned the nation’s spy chief, Won Sei-hoon, on how the administration was left in the dark about Kim’s death.  Both the National Intelligence Service and the Defense Ministry here say they only became aware of Kim’s passing once it was broadcast on North Korean television.   

Some observers say this represents an embarrassing intelligence failure.  Others say it speaks to how secretive the Pyongyang government is.    

John Delury, who lectures in East Asian studies at Yonsei university in Seoul, says its not the first time the Lee Myung Bak administration has failed to gather intelligence ahead of major incidents.

“They’re getting a lot of heat for again not knowing about it and that's been an ongoing issue with other incidents, other surprises, Kim Jong Il’s visits to China, tensions, conflicts on the NLL, the sea border, this issue has dogged the MB administration and its coming back again now, ” Delury said.

Delury adds that the administration was also late in coming out with an official statement regarding Kim’s death.  He points out that on Monday, the United States, China and Japan had all issued some form of response.

Unification Minister Yu also said during his announcement today that South Korea is backing off on its support to allow Christian groups to light Christmas lights on tree-shaped poles near the Demilitarized Zone.  Pyongyang previously had labeled the practice psychological warfare.

Yu says, because North Korea is in a mourning period, the government has decided to recommend the religious groups to defer the lighting of Christmas trees which was planned for December 23, near inter-Korean boarder.

North Korea had threatened to attack the three locations if the thousands of lights are switched on.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs