NK quiet on death of Yoon’s fatherBy Shin Ji-hye
Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 14:39
North Korea has not yet offered condolences to President Yoon Suk Yeol over his father's death, unlike previous instances when Pyongyang passed on its sympathies upon news of the deaths of South Korea's liberal-leaning leaders and their family members.
Yoon's father, Yoon Ki-jung, an emeritus professor of applied statistics at Yonsei University, died Tuesday. This is the second time an incumbent president has lost a parent during his or her term.
When former left-wing President Moon Jae-in’s mother Kang Han-ok died in October 2019, Pyongyang delivered a letter of condolence in the form of a personal letter from Kim Jong-un through Panmunjom, a day after Kang’s death.
At that time, inter-Korean relations were strained following a failed second summit between former US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. However, it appeared the letter was delivered because of Kim’s personal relationship with Moon. They held three inter-Korean summits, and Moon made significant efforts to mend ties with the North, though those efforts ultimately did not succeed.
The North also issued a condolence letter in the name of Kim Jong-il through the state-run Korean Central News Agency two days after the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun in May 2009. When former President Kim Dae-jung, known for his “sunshine policy,” died in August of the same year, Kim Jong-il also sent a condolence delegation.
In contrast, North Korea did not express condolences upon news of the death of two former conservative presidents, Roh Tae-woo in 2021 and Kim Young-sam in 2015. Kim Jong-un is unlikely to express condolences this time, as he has never met Yoon in person and inter-Korean relations have been strained under his conservative administration.
Yoon received condolences from ambassadors, political figures and religious leaders through in-person visits to the funeral, as well as by phone and through floral tributes.
On Tuesday night, ruling People Power Party leader Kim Gi-hyeon and main opposition Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Jae-myung visited the funeral hall at Severance Hospital in Seoul. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho and Education Minister Lee Ju-ho also visited the mortuary.
Former presidents shared their sympathies with Yoon. Moon Jae-in sent flowers and expressed his condolences to chief of staff Kim Dae-ki by phone. Lee Myung-bak visited the mortuary, and Park Geun-hye sent condolence flowers.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his condolences on the death of Yoon's father during a video meeting with foreign ministers from South Korea, the US and Japan on Tuesday.
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