Park’s 2005 letter not delivered to N.K. leader: ministry

South Korea's unification ministry said Wednesday it believes President Park Geun-hye's 2005 letter to then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was not delivered.

The announcement comes after a local media outlet reported that the incumbent president, who was then the head of the conservative party, sent a letter touching on inter-Korean exchanges to the North Korean leader in the cited year. This sparked criticism that in the letter she may have been too submissive in her attitude toward Kim, who died suddenly in late 2011.

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 Korean leader.

The government judges that Park's letter was not sent to the North, based on information it has been able to piece together from the foundation, according to Jeong Joon-hee, the ministry spokesman.

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 the spike in inter-Korean exchanges. Those that made contact later reported the results of their exchange with the government.

But after the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration took office in 2008, Seoul has dialed back contact and only given the green light to civilian inter-Korean exchanges on a case-by-case basis.

As the foundation received blanket approval for its inter-Korean program from 2004 to 2007, there was no need to request permission from the ministry, Jeong pointed out.

"(Even if the letter was delivered to the North), there is no problem from a legal perspective," he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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