Request to attend funeral in keeping with ethnic Korean group’s unwavering loyalty to the deceased leader.
The heads of two South Korean delegations have met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during a visit to Pyongyang to pay respects to his late father Kim Jong-Il, Seoul’s unification ministry said.
A spokesman said on Monday that Lee Hee-Ho, widow of late South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung, and Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jung-Eun paid respects to the late leader at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace and expressed condolences to Jong-un.
“I hope that our visit to the North will help improve South-North relations,” Lee said before she crossed the border.
Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il held the first-ever inter-Korea summit in 2000 and Hyundai pioneered cross-border business projects.
Hyun, 56, had met Kim several times in the past.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from the border between the two countries, said that Hyundai had done a lot of business with North Korea.
He said that North Korea also sent delegations to the south when both women’s husbands died.
“Lee said that this was an opportunity to build better relations between the two countries,” our correspondent said.
The delegates held a lunch meeting with unidentified officials in Pyongyang later on Monday before paying last respects to Jong-il, according to the South’s unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.
The delegates were scheduled to return home on Tuesday, before the state funeral on Wednesday.
Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack on December 17 at the age of 69.