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Pro-North Korean Groups to Visit Pyongyang

Posted September. 24, 2005 07:12,   


Regarding the report by Dong-A Ilbo that North Korean authorities asked South Korean groups that have supported the North to help gather spectators for “Arirang,” a performance which is currently playing in Pyongyang, the Ministry of Unification said yesterday that a total of about 9,000 people would eventually pay a visit to the North to see the show.

Ko Gyeong-bin, the head of the social and cultural exchanges bureau of the Ministry of Unification, said in a briefing, “A total of about 9,000 people, including those who belong to 22 pro-North Korea groups, will visit Pyongyang to see the performance, conduct an investigation into how aid from the South has been used, and visit cultural sites of interest.”

According the Ministry of Unification, currently 4,700 people from KRHANA, 1,500 from Goodneighbors and 1,000 from the One Korea Cultural Foundation are planning to visit the North. In addition, each group is receiving applications from its members. As of yesterday, the groups are planning to send a total of 9,265 people to the North.

Ko said, “Consultations between each group and the North are underway over the schedule, and the timing of their visits to the North. But the scale of the visitors has not been fixed because chartered planes to Pyongyang and accommodations in Pyongyang have not been confirmed.”

The ministry says that the fact that members of pro-North Korea groups are visiting the North in order to see the performance under the pretext of investigating the use of aid from the South is not against the law.

The admission fee for the performance reportedly ranges from $50 to $300 on the basis of the quality of seats, and the total cost for visiting the North amounts to one to 1.5 million won on a for a two-night, three-day tour.

A Korean Sharing Movement official said, “All the visitors will pay the total cost for visiting Pyongyang at their own expense.”

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com