South Korea this week will unveil a memorial for victims of North Korea’s 1983 bombing in Yangon, Myanmar, officials said Tuesday, in a new sign of progress in the two countries’ relations.
The 730 million won ($712,000) project was initiated last year on a 258-square-meter site at Aung San National Cemetery to commemorate 17 officials who were killed while accompanying then-President Chun Doo-hwan during his visit.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se plans to attend a launch ceremony on Friday along with the 23 members of the families of the victims and other officials, ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said.
“The statue was built to honor the deceased officials for their lofty sacrifices,” he said.
During his three-day visit, Yun will hold talks and sign an investment promotion and protection treaty with his Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin. He is also scheduled for separate meetings with President Thein Sein and Shwe Mann, speaker of the Lower House of Parliament.
Seoul has been reengaging with Myanmar since its nominally civilian government undertook sweeping democratic and economic reforms in 2011, ending the long reign of the military junta. The two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1975.
They have been boosting cooperation on trade, energy, resources, infrastructure and development since former President Lee Myung-bak made a landmark trip to Naypyidaw in 2012.
The Southeast Asian country, also known as Burma, had a close relationship with Pyongyang until ties were severed in the wake of the bombing terror. Their ties were restored in 2007.
The West has suspected arms trade and nuclear cooperation between the two countries during Myanmar’s ironfisted rule. But their covert partnership appears to have diminished amid its internal political reforms and western engagement.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)