Sister of N. Korean leader pays respects to Lee He-ho

Kim Yo-jong’s trip to Panmunjom to pay respects at a service commemorating former South Korean first lady Lee He-ho was the first meeting by senior officials of the two Koreas in months. (AFP pic)

SEOUL: The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday delivered a condolence message for former South Korean first lady Lee He-ho, the first high-level contact between the two countries in months.

Kim Yo-jong, who holds a powerful position in the reclusive state, delivered the message, and flowers, on her brother’s behalf at a meeting with South Korean officials at Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone.

The meeting lasted about 15 minutes, said Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s top national security advisor.

“Kim commented we should continue co-operation in honour of Lee’s efforts for inter-Korean harmony,” he said, according to broadcaster YTN.

Lee, a lifelong companion of late president Kim Dae-jung, died on Monday aged 96.

Kim was known for his “sunshine policy” of engagement with North Korea, and Pyongyang also sent a delegation to Seoul to pay respects when he died in 2009.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first by senior officials since the breakdown of a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February.

Pyongyang has called on Seoul to implement joint economic projects agreed last year at inter-Korean summits, but sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes have blocked progress.