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`3 Korean Americans visited P`yang late last year`

Posted February. 04, 2012 07:14,   


South Korea’s Unification Ministry belatedly confirmed Friday that another group visited North Korea via land route in December last year to pay condolences over the death of the North`s late leader Kim Jong Il. The government had said that it allowed just the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung and the family of the late Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun to go to Pyongyang to pay their respects to Kim Jong Il.

The ministry said three Korean Americans -- Moon Hyung-jin, international president of the Unification Church; Park Sang-kwon, CEO of Pyeonghwa Motors; and Douglas D.M. Joo, chairman of The Washington Times -- crossed the inter-Korean border Dec. 24 to go to Pyongyang, which came two days prior to the visit by Kim Dae-jung’s widow and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun.

“Since all three people had U.S. citizenship, they could always visit the North through a third country,” a Unification Ministry spokesman said. “The South Korean government cooperated with them because they wished to visit North Korea from South Korea,” adding, “Back then, we didn`t think it is necessary to announce their visit to the North via land route."

Those wishing to visit North Korea via land route are required to get prior approval from the ministry under an inter-Korean agreement. The visit request is relayed to North Korea after approval from the U.N. Command via the South Korean Defense Ministry. If Pyongyang accepts, they can cross the border.