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Funeral for Top NK Defector Held at Nat`l Cemetery

Posted October. 15, 2010 11:20,   


The funeral of Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking North Korean official to defect to South Korea, was held at the National Cemetery in Daejeon for about 30 minutes from 3 p.m. Thursday.

With some 250 mourners attending, the funeral was conducted in the order of his chronicle by Hong Soon-kyung, a high-ranking member of the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea, eulogies by Chung Hee-kyung, chief director of Chungkang College of Cultural Industries, and Kang Tae-wook, president of Democracy Research Association, and the burning of incense and offering of flowers by funeral committee chairman Park Kwan-yong, a former National Assembly speaker.

“Had he lived longer, he could’ve seen a democratically united Korea,” Chung said, “Since he suffered through our miserable modern history of division and conflict, I hope he now rises above all hardships and get comfort and compliments in the arms of God.”

Hwang was buried in the 26th spot of the graveyard for those who contributed to the nation and society, which also houses the tombs of former World Health Organization Director General Lee Jong-wook, 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics marathon winner Sohn Kee-chung, children’s author Yoon Seok-joong and former Transportation Minister Ahn Kyung-mo.

After the national flag was removed from the coffin, Hwang’s foster daughter Kim Sook-hyang, 68, bit her mouth to choke back tears while sprinkling dust with a shovel over the coffin. A wooden gravestone had the engraved phrase “The Tomb of the 26th Contributor to the Nation and Society, Hwang Jang-yop.”

“He is alive and will be alive in the hearts of South and North Koreans aspiring for reunification,” Kim said. “I believe that continuing his great work will repay the people’s interest and encouragement.”

The coffin was taken out of Asan Medical Center in Seoul at 10 a.m. Thursday in a solemn mood. Grave silence marked the carrying of the coffin followed by his portrait and the Order of Civil Merit. The room for the ceremony on the medical center’s first floor, which can accommodate up to 230 people, was filled with mourners and some people had to stay outside.

“When the democratization flag of North Korea is put in Pyongyang, I will bring your portrait and bring you back there,” funeral committee chairman Park said in his eulogy. “I hope you tread on 70 million chrysanthemums to climb up the stairs of heaven with comfort.”

Cho Myong-chol, a former professor at the North’s most prestigious institution of higher learning Kim Il Sung University, took a deep breath and sobbed at the end of his eulogy.

Crying turned into sobbing. When Hwang’s posthumously released poem “Farewell” was screened with a video clip featuring him, the sobbing grew louder.

Some 20 members from the North Korean People’s Liberation Front, a group of former North Korean soldiers who fled the communist country, stood in two lines and saluted when the coffin was carried to the hearse after the ceremony.

Most of the mourners went to the National Cemetery in Daejeon. Not a single seat was empty in four buses that could carry up to 45 people each.

The mourners did not move until the hearse disappeared and members of a human rights group chanted with a placard criticizing the three generations of succession by the North’s ruling Kim family.

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