S. Korea's ex-first lady ends DPRK visit without meeting top leader
Updated: 2015-08-09 10:31
Former first lady Lee Hee-ho (C), widow of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, arrives at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, August 5, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
SEOUL - The widow of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung on Saturday returned to Seoul after her four-day visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Lee Hee-ho arrived at the Gimpo International Airport at noon after departing from Pyongyang about an hour ago.
The low-budget airplane carrying the 93-year-old and her 18- member entourage flied along the direct flight line between Seoul and Pyongyang, a rare approval by the DPRK as such flights were prohibited after the 1950-1953 war that ended in armistice.
She hasn't met Kim Jong Un during her stay in the DPRK, according to local media, citing the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center, which organized her trip.
Lee told a press conference at the airport that her visit was at the invitation of top leader Kim Jong Un.
The top leader invited Lee to Pyongyang last year in gratitude for Lee's sending a wreath of condolence flowers to mark the third anniversary of the death of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader.
"I thought that the pain of division (of the Korean Peninsula) should not be inherited by our next generation when I visited homes for orphans in Pyongyang and held hands of the innocent children," Lee said.
Lee expressed her wish that the South Korean people would unite minds to build a history of unification with love and peace, and reconciliation and cooperation that the June 15 spirit declared.
Her husband Kim Dae-jung was known for his "sunshine policy" of reconciliation with the DPRK, leading to the first inter-Korean summit in 2000 in Pyongyang with Kim Jong Il.
Lee accompanied Kim to the summit in 2000.
It was her third travel to the DPRK territory. The latest one was for the funeral of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in December 2011 when Lee visited Pyongyang to pay condolences.
During her trip this time, Lee visited a maternity home and a children's hospital in Pyongyang on the first day.
On the second day, she visited homes for orphans and the elderly to provide them with knitted scarves and medicine, according to the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center.
On the third day, she tripped an exhibition center and a temple in Mount Myohyang, about a three-hour drive north of Pyongyang.