ROK allows civic groups to send condolences to Pyongyang
Updated: 2011-12-22 10:08
SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) will allow civic groups and civilians to send messages of condolences to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its leader's recent death, the unification ministry said on Wednesday.
The unification ministry, which oversees inter-Korean affairs, will grant approvals to groups and individuals wishing to send messages by fax or mail, spokesman Choi Boh-seon said at a briefing.
"The unification ministry plans to accept such requests unless there's a special reason not to," Choi added.
As of Wednesday, a few private organizations including Hyundai Asan, an operator of suspended cross-border tours, have asked the ministry to extend their condolences to the DPRK.
The move comes a day after the ROK expressed its sympathy to the people of the DPRK over Kim Jong-il's death on Saturday.
The country decided not to send an official delegation to attend Kim's funeral, as the DPRK said it will not accept foreign delegations for the funeral ceremony scheduled on Dec 28.
The government said on Tuesday it will allow Pyongyang visits by the families of the late former ROK president Kim Dae-jung and former Hyundai Group chairman Chung Mong-hun, in appreciation of Pyongyang's previous decisions to send delegates to honor the two men at their funerals.
Former first lady Lee Hee-ho, whose late husband had forged friendly ties with the DPRK that culminated in a historic joint summit in 2000, had voiced hope for a Pyongyang visit even before Kim's death.
Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun, who has remained committed to the troubled cross-border tour projects since her husband Chung Mong-hun killed himself in 2003, offered condolences over Kim's death in a news release on Monday.Bipartisan response
ROK President Lee Myung-bak will hold a rare meeting with ruling and opposition leaders to encourage bipartisan responses to the death of Kim Jong-il, local media reported on Wednesday.
Lee is expected to meet on Thursday with interim ruling party leader Park Geun-hye, opposition co-representative Won He-young and Shim Dae-pyung, chairman of the right-wing minority Liberty Forward Party, according to YTN television.
Both the conservative ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Unified Democratic Party have called for bipartisan unity during times of uncertainty following the announcement of Kim's death.
The two parties, however, clashed on Wednesday over whether to send a parliamentary delegation to attend Kim's funeral ceremony.
In their meeting earlier in the day, Park rejected Won's proposal to form a parliamentary delegation to visit Pyongyang, citing the government policy of not sending an official condolence delegation.