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On the South Korean Government Sending Condolences to North Korea

December 21, 2011

Read in Korean.

Ryu Woo Ik, Minster of Unification, said in a statement on Tuesday that, “The South Korean government will not send an envoy of condolence,” but “will allow the family members of the late president Kim Dae Jung and the late (Hyundai Group) CEO Chung Mong Heon to visit North Korea since the North sent official envoys of condolence to Kim and Chung’s funerals.”

We believe the South Korean government’s decision not to send an envoy of condolence or mention Kim Jong Il’s name in the statement was proper. However, we regard the government’s decision to send condolences to the people of North Korea and to allow private citizens’ visits of condolence to Pyongyang as inappropriate.

We understand that the South Korean government tried to react to the “condolence controversy” by expressing condolences to the people (as opposed to the government). However, it needs to reconsider the reason why it thinks the North Korean people should receive condolences for Kim Jong Il’s death.

The very existence of Kim Jong Il was the source of the pain and human rights violations the North Korean people were suffering. Therefore, the death of Kim Jong Il is not a sad thing for the North Korean people. Of course, North Koreans are showing sadness in the TV footage released by North Korean media. However, for many North Korean people who wanted an end to the Kim Jong Il dictatorship, his death is a source of new hope.

We want to make sure that the death of the unprecedented dictator cannot be the subject of condolence, and the North Korean people not subject to this type of solace. Kim Jong Il is, most of all, a dictator who ruined North Korea and made the people suffer. Therefore, the government instead should have sent condolences to the North Korean people for Kim not being brought to justice before his death.

The South Korean government’s reaction to the post-Kim Jong Il North Korea is very important for the future of North Korea. Thus, we urge the government to clearly differentiate between the North Korean leadership and the people. The new leadership after Kim Jong Il must not inherit his policies and legacy.

If the South Korean government still wants to send condolences to the people, it should not be for the death of Kim Jong Il, but for the people who will still suffer under Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Un inheriting power will cause renewed suffering and despair. Therefore, we regret the government’s statement of “condolences.”

December 21, 2011
The Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet)


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