North Korean state media in a commentary called Hwang's death a "heaven-sent curse" [AFP]

Hundreds of South Koreans have rallied in the capital, Seoul, to commemorate the death of North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop, and to protest against the communist regime in the North.

Activists visited a simple shrine built in the memory of Hwang in front of Seoul Railroad station on Thursday.

After saying prayers, the activists waved signs and chanted in protest against North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's attempt to anoint his third son, Kim Jong-un, as his heir apparent.

The protesters ripped up and sprayed paint on a banner bearing Kim Jong-un's image.

"The world has been shocked with North Korea's hereditary succession of power for the third time. North Korean people's human rights will be worse with the succession. We'd like to let others know about this," Choi Seong-ryong, whose fisherman father was kidnapped to the North in 1971, said.

Funeral

Hwang, the highest ranking official ever to defect from the North, was found dead in his home in Seoul on Sunday. He was 87.

A former North Korean Workers' Party secretary, Hwang defected to South Korea 13 years ago. He helped establish North Korea’s policy of isolationism and self-reliance, but escaped to the South in 1997 via China and the Philippines.

Upon arriving in South Korea, Hwang wrote books and delivered speeches condemning the rule of Kim Jong-il as authoritarian. He lived under tight police security amid fears of assassination attempts by North Korean agents.

An initial examination of Hwang's body showed no signs of foul play, and he was buried at a national cemetery south of Seoul on Thursday.

North Korea's state media issued a commentary calling Hwang's death a "heaven-sent curse".

Hwang "was the man who ran away to the South for his personal pleasure and complacency by abandoning our country and party and leaving behind his family members," the Uriminzokkiri website said in a commentary, according to Seoul's Yonhap news agency.

Yonhap later said the commentary was removed about 20 minutes after it was posted.

Source: Agencies