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Prosecutors Oppose Delegation to North Korea’s Workers’ Party Anniversary

Prosecutors Oppose Delegation to North Korea’s Workers’ Party Anniversary

Posted October. 06, 2005 07:16,   


Prosecutors appear to be resisting the decision of the Ministry of Unification to allow a South Korean delegation composed of civilians to participate in celebratory events to mark the 60th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea’s Workers` Party.

The Ministry of Unification and the National Security Council will have a working-level meeting with North Korea on October 6 and make a final decision on the composition of the South Korean delegation. However the prosecutors’ stance is “participating in celebratory events for the North Korean Workers’ Party’s anniversary is tantamount to recognizing the North Korean regime. Therefore it is not understandable.”

The decision to send a civilian delegation from the South followed North Korea’s invitation extended last week. The North delivered its intention to invite South Korean delegation last week to the South Korean preparatory committee for joint overseas events between South and North Korea. The events are aimed at facilitating the implementation of the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration.

The North requested the South to form a civil delegation and to send it between October 9 and 12. According to what is known so far, the delegation is scheduled to watch the Arirang Festival at 5-1 Stadium in Neunglado, Pyongyang, and to pay their respects at a graveyard for patriots.

An official of the Unification Ministry said, “Recently, the inter-Korean relationship has been improving rapidly. So in order to respect the North’s invitation, we decided to allow some South Koreans to visit North Korea,” saying, “It is not a dispatch of an official delegation.”

However, the Public Security Department at the Supreme Public Prosecutor`s Office is protesting against the Unification Ministry’s decision, saying, “South Korean participation in the celebratory events to mark the Workers’ Party’s anniversary cannot be viewed as just a social and cultural exchange. Therefore we have to be careful about it.” The prosecutors pointed out that this year, the Unification Ministry has been recklessly giving permission to visit North Korea, even to those unqualified, and that it is a serious problem.

Currently, according to the criteria set by the Unification Ministry, those who have been punished under the National Security Law since 2000, those who served more than seven years of real-jail time and those who have been punished for violations of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation law are unqualified to visit North Korea. However, prosecutors say dozens of unqualified visitors were included in the delegation to the event marking the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration.

An official at the Ministry of Justice said, “Professor Kang Jeong-goo’s remarks stirred a controversy in Korean society. In this situation, the inter-Korean relationship, too, needs some moderation in pace.”