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S. Korea checking report on Park's letter to ex-N.K. leader

2016/12/20 12:13

SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry said Tuesday it is checking relevant information to verify whether President Park Geun-hye's 2005 letter sent to the former North Korean leader violated a law on inter-Korean exchanges.

A local media outlet reported that in July 2005, Park, then head of the conservative party, sent a letter to then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on inter-Korean exchanges, sparking criticism that she may have been too submissive in her attitude toward Kim.

In May 2002, Park visited Pyongyang in her capacity as a board member of the Seoul-based EU-Korea Foundation and met with the North's former leader.

Seoul's unification ministry said that it is checking the report to review whether Park's move violated the relevant law.

"As it is not certain whether the letter was actually delivered to the North, it is currently not proper for the government to comment on that," said a ministry official, asking not to be named. "We are checking relevant information."

   Park's visit was made at the height of inter-Korean reconciliation and exchanges under the liberal administration of former late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. Kim served as the president for five years until February 2003.

Previously, liberal governments gave blanket approval for contact with North Korea in advance to handle a spike in inter-Korean exchanges. Civic groups later reported the results of their contact to the government.

But after a conservative administration took office in 2008, Seoul has given the green light to civilian inter-Korean exchanges on a case-by-case basis.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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