News / Asia

South Korean Broadcasting Official to Visit Pyongyang

A sign displayed in the Olympic Park, July 21, 2012, in London.
A sign displayed in the Olympic Park, July 21, 2012, in London.
SEOUL — The first private South Korean citizen authorized to go to North Korea since the funeral of Kim Jong Il is to arrive there Tuesday. The trip is meant to clear the way for North Korea to broadcast events from the upcoming Summer Olympics.

The president of the Asia Broadcasting Union, Kim In-kyu, is to meet in Pyongyang with North Korea's radio and television broadcasting committee.

Kim, who also is chairman of the state-run Korea Broadcasting System in Seoul, was invited by the North.

Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin, speaking to reporters in Seoul, says the South Korean government on Monday approved Kim's request to visit the North.

Park says Kim will be going to Pyongyang as the representative of an international organization and what he discusses with North Korean officials will be limited to issues related to the Asia Broadcasting Union. She says Kim will not be carrying any message from the government in Seoul to convey to officials in Pyongyang.

Kim is to stay in North Korea through Thursday.

South Korea's private broadcaster, SBS, has the rights for the entire Korean peninsula to air the Olympic games. SBS says it will share broadcasting of events with KBS and another network, MBC. SBS asked ABU to handle the issue of rights in North Korea.

The ABU says it is set to provide rights for the London summer event to 30 countries, including North Korea, which is sending 51 athletes to London.

Meanwhile, a South Korean state-owned company revealed Monday its staff visited the North last year for secret talks to discuss joint development of minerals, including rare earths.
The Korea Resources Corporation says the two rounds of discussions were authorized by South Korea's government.
Direct communication between the two Koreas has been sparse in recent years.

Most trade and contact was halted after Seoul accused Pyongyang of the sinking of one of its naval ships in 2010. Forty-six sailors died.

North Korea's shelling of a frontier island, in which four people died, later in 2010, raised tensions further.

Seoul and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations. That is a legacy of the three-year Korean War in the early 1950s, which ended without a peace treaty.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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