Political heavyweights pay respects to late former PM

By Choi He-suk
  • Published : Jun 24, 2018 - 16:04
  • Updated : Jun 24, 2018 - 16:13

Former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil’s funeral continued to draw mourners Sunday, with political heavyweights from both sides paying their respects.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Saturday paid his respects, and revealed that Kim Jong-pil is to be awarded a government medal in recognition of the part he played in modern Korean history.

“(Kim) has long played a leading role in (Korea’s) modern history, and served as a prime minister, as such the government will commemorate his achievements,” Lee said. 

Lee Nak-yon (Yonhap)

He added that Kim will be awarded a medal, which will be awarded first and then approve at a later date.

With President Moon Jae-in in Russia on a state visit, Cheong Wa Dae initially responded to the news of Kim’s passing by dispatching Senior Political Affairs Secretary Han Byung-do on Saturday. 

Moon Jae-in and Lee Nak-yon pay condolences (Yonhap)

The presidential office also issued a statement from Yoon Young-chan, senior press secretary, saying that Kim’s absence will be felt by the country.

Democratic Party chief Rep. Choo Mi-ae described Kim Jong-pil as “an elder who left big footprints in the country’s politics,” adding that the deceased played a key role in the 1997 presidential election.

Kim Jong-pil’s alliance with Kim Dae-jung in the mid-1990s was crucial in the latter becoming the first liberal president through the 1997 presidential election.

Having served nine terms in the National Assembly, Kim Jong-pil had one of the longest careers in the parliament. The late former prime minister is only matched by late President Kim Young-sam and former National Assembly Speaker Park Jyun-kyu in number of parliamentary terms served.

Among those paying their last respects on Sunday were former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said that Kim Jong-pil leaves behind “great achievements in industrialization and advancement of democratic politics” in Korea.

Ban also said that Kim Jong-pil will be remembered as “a politician who gave the people hope.”

Park Ji-man, brother of former President Park Geun-hye, and Rep. Park Jei-won of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace also paid their respects.

Park Ji-man is related to Kim Jong-pil through marriage, with the latter having been married to his cousin, while Park Jie-won was one of Kim Dae-jung’s closest aides.

By Choi He-suk (