NATIONAL

South Korean party leaders meet with NK parliamentary chief

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Sept 19, 2018 - 14:46
  • Updated : Sept 19, 2018 - 18:02
The chiefs of three South Korean political parties met with North Korean parliamentary leader Kim Yong-nam in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place Tuesday, but it was rescheduled after the South Korean party leaders failed to show.

Lee Hae-chan of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Chung Dong-young of the center-left Party for Democracy and Peace and Lee Jeong-mi of the progressive opposition Justice Party, who are in Pyongyang with President Moon Jae-in, met with Kim, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and two other North Korean officials at the Mansudae Assembly on Wednesday morning.

From left: Lee Jeong-mi, Chung Dong-young, Lee Hae-chan, Kim Young-nam, An Tong-chun (Pyongyang Press Corps.)

During the 50-minute talk, the South’s party leaders suggested to the North holding an inter-Korean parliamentary conference within this year, and co-hosting the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Movement.

At the meeting, Kim highlighted his relationship with Lee and Chung as they had met before. It is Lee’s third time in Pyongyang -- he traveled there in 2000 as a special delegate accompanying the late former President Kim Dae-jung and in 2005 as chief of the Northeast Asia Committee of the then-ruling Uri Party. Chung visited the North as Unification Minister in 2005.

The North’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly is the highest state body under the North Korean constitution. An Tong-chun, vice chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and Kim Yong-dae, vice president of the Presidium, were also present at the meeting.

The meeting was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday with An and two other North Korean officials, but the South Korean side did not show up, later explaining that there had been a scheduling mistake.

However, some observers suggested that the party leaders may have deliberately boycotted the meeting, possibly due to discomfort over the ranks of their North Korean counterparts.

Meanwhile, conservative opposition parties condemned the three parties, saying they had shown disrespect to the North.

The chiefs of the two conservative parties had rejected the presidential office’s invitation to go to Pyongyang, saying the president was inviting them along to serve as his “foils.”

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)