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Public Officials Visit Pyongyang, Watch Show Commemorating North Korean Workers Party

Public Officials Visit Pyongyang, Watch Show Commemorating North Korean Workers Party

Posted October. 07, 2005 07:35,   


It was confirmed yesterday that public servants and teachers from across the country have visited and will visit North Korea in order to watch “Arirang,” a performance in Pyongyang to mark the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the North Korean Workers Party (October 10).

In response, controversy is arising over the view that Arirang, which contains content that legitimizes the North’s regime, might not be suitable for viewing by public officials.

A total of 200 teachers from the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTEWU) are scheduled to pay a visit to Pyongyang for a one-night, two-day tour on October 7 in order to watch the performance. KTEWU gathered those teachers who want to visit Pyongyang at the request of KRHANA, a pro-North civic group, and they paid one million won for the tour to the North at their own expense.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development said, “KTEWU asked us to approve this tour as an official tour, but we ordered them to record it as their private leave of absence because it is not an official duty.”

The Korea Federation of Teacher’s Association and the Korean Union of Teaching and Education Workers were also asked by pro-North groups to visit the North to watch the performance, but they have decided not to visit Pyongyang.

At the request of KRHANA, the Korean Government Employees’ Union (KGEU) planned a measure in which a total of 200 employees would pay a visit to Pyongyang on October 13 and 14 in order to view the performance, and is accepting applications for the visit to the North through each of its branch offices nationwide.

The head of South Gyeongsang Province Office of KGEU said, “We are planning to gather the 21 people our office will send by October 7.”

Its South Jeolla Province Office, which should gather 18 applicants, received applications from seven people as of yesterday. KGEU Gwangju branch is planning to send six officials from its ward office and office of education. The Busan branch has decided to send four to five officials to the North.

Meanwhile, for North Jeolla Province, 10 officials from its provincial office, including the governor of North Jeolla Province Kang Hyun-wook, 41 officials from its city and county councils, including its mayors and county governors, and five officials from its provincial council watched the performance in Pyongyang on October 3 and 4 after visiting a cooperation farm and farm machine center in South Hwanghae Province.

On top of that, the director of the culture and physical exercise and tourism bureau of Incheon City and the head of the Inter-Korean exchange supporting team visited Pyongyang on September 27 and 28 in order to watch the performance, and two employees of the culture and arts bureau also visited the North on October 5. Incheon City has reportedly encouraged its officials to visit Pyongyang in a bid to create the atmosphere for the two Koreas to co-host the 2014 Asian Games.

On the other hand, Gyeonggi Province said that it canceled plans to visit Pyongyang because the North forced it to watch the performance.

Sohn Hak-kyu, the Governor of Gyeonggi Province, originally planned to visit the North earlier in October in order to confirm the results of cultivation methods for rice farming that Gyeonggi Province supported, but retracted the plan because Pyongyang proposed that it watch the performance as a precondition for coming to the North.

A Gyeonggi Province official said, “It is proper for officials to visit the North for the purpose of economic and cultural exchanges, but it is not desirable for public officials to be mobilized to an event that shows off the legitimacy of the North’s regime.”

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com