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Korea Bids Farewell to Ex-Pres. in Emotional Funeral

Posted May. 30, 2009 08:17,   


The state funeral for former President Roh Moo-hyun was observed at the court before Heungryemun in Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul yesterday.

The ceremony was attended by some 2,500 people, including President Lee Myung-bak, former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam, other political leaders, government officials and foreign diplomats in Seoul.

Also attending were National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-o; Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon; Prime Minister Han Seung-soo; Constitutional Court Chief Justice Lee Kang-guk; and National Election Commission Chairman Yang Seung-tae.

Ruling Grand National Party Chairman Park Hee-tae also came as did main opposition Democratic Party leader Chung Sye-kyun, minor conservative Liberty Forward Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang, and progressive Democratic Labor Party Chairman Kang Ki-kap.

Former presidents Chun Doo-hwan, who recently underwent surgery, and Roh Tae-woo did not attend the event, citing poor health.

Roh Moo-hyun’s body was taken to Seoul after an opening ritual in the morning hosted by the state funeral committee at the village of Bongha in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province. When the funeral procession arrived at the funeral site just before 11 a.m., a military band started the ceremony with a performance.

When entering the site, the procession was headed by a vehicle carrying with Roh’s portrait measuring 1.1 by 1.4 meters, followed by the National Order of Honor, Mugunghwa Merit, the highest order granted to the late president, the hearse, and his wife.

The ceremony, moderated by announcer Song Ji-hyeon, included a national courtesy, a silent prayer for Roh, and a reporting of his profile. Afterwards, the co-chairs of the funeral committee -- Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook -- delivered memorial addresses.

The addresses were followed by religious ceremonies of Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Won Buddhism while Roh’s images were shown on two giant screens mounted at both sides of the ceremonial altar.

Roh’s bereaved family, President Lee and his wife, and other dignitaries paid tribute by throwing flowers on the late leader. The National Choir sang “Sangnoksu (Evergreen),” and a ceremonial unit from the armed forces did a 21-gun salute to conclude the ceremony.

The event was broadcast live on giant screens installed at Seoul City Plaza and Seoul Station, as well as terrestrial TV networks.

Participants in the funeral procession marched from Gyeongbok Palace to Sejong-ro and to City Hall on foot, as mourners from across the nation and workers came onto the streets during lunch bid farewell to the former president.

The funeral’s schedule was delayed due to the crowds who packed the streets as the procession moved to Seoul’s Yongsan district via Seoul Station from 1:30 to 2 p.m., after a street ritual at Seoul City Plaza. Police estimated up to 180,000 people on the streets, while civic groups said 400,000 to 500,000.

Roh’s body was cremated in the southern Seoul suburb of Suwon around 6:05 p.m. according to his will. The box of his ashes was taken this morning to Jeongtowon, a Buddhist temple on Mount Bonghwa in his hometown of Bongha Village in Gimhae. Later, his ashes will be buried at a site near his residence at the village.