“Not in the short run,” says David Kang, professor of Korean studies at the University of Southern California, when asked about chances for a thaw in North Korea’s tough stance vis-à-vis South Korea, the US, and Japan. “If he’s following in his father’s footsteps, it will take a couple of years” before there’s any change in outlook.
North Korea promised a warm welcome to “condolence delegations” from South Korea, offering assurances that “the convenience and safety of South Korean condolence delegations will be fully guaranteed.”
South Korea has agreed to permit two widows whose husbands had unique, tragically interwoven records in pursuing rapprochement between South and North to lead their own “condolence delegations.”
First is Lee Hee-ho, widow of Kim Dae-jung, the president who articulated a “Sunshine policy” of reconciliation, flew to Pyongyang for the first inter-Korean summit with Kim Jong-il in June 2000, and won the Nobel Peace Prize six months later.
Second is Hyun Jeong-eun, widow of Chung Mong-hun, who was chairman of Hyundai Asan, the Hyundai group company responsible for realizing the dream of his father, Chung Ju-yung, to open up North Korea for business and tourism. Her husband committed suicide in August 2003 two months after his indictment for his role in channeling at least $500 million in bribes from South to North Korea to persuade Kim Jong-il to agree to the summit.