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Civic Groups’ Visits to N. Korea to Resume

Posted September. 19, 2008 08:14,   


South Korean civic groups will likely resume visits to North Korea next week. They had been banned from doing so in July after a South Korean tourist was shot dead at the North’s Mount Geumgang resort.

The visits are expected to be an opportunity to learn more about the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and Pyongyang’s internal situation.

The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice of South Korea, which is planning to visit the North Monday through Friday next week, will tour the mountains of Baekdu and Myohyang after holding Mass in Pyongyang. Some 100 association members will go.

In addition, most department chairmen from the (South) Korean Confederation of Trade Unions have applied to visit the North Monday through Wednesday.

Some 60 members of the South Korean Committee for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration have submitted applications to visit Pyongyang and make a pilgrimage to Mount Baekdu and Mount Myohyang Tuesday through Saturday next week.

More than 100 people from the Korean Sharing Movement and other South Korean humanitarian groups are also planning to visit the North next month.

The South Korean Unification Ministry will allow their visits barring a legal problem. “The ministry has requested views from relevant bodies to screen applicants,” a Seoul official said.

The main opposition Democratic Party will send members to the North’s Gaesong Industrial Complex Oct. 2 to mark the first anniversary of the 2007 inter-Korean summit declaration. A total of 102 members, including Chairman Chung Sye-kyun, are expected to go.