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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

Even in Death, Working for Reunification

Pyongyang, North Korea - UPF International Chair Hyung Jin Moon visited Pyongyang on September 7, a week before the memorial services for his father, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, to accept condolences from relatives residing in North Korea.

A simple family visit that in other parts of the world would be routine was in fact quite exceptional, in light of the heightened tensions between the two Koreas. Millions of families remain divided with no possibility of visiting each other across the heavily fortified 38th parallel.

This was more than just a family visit. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended his condolences to the Moon family in the South over the North's official news media, extolling Dr. Moon’s efforts for reconciliation and unity between the Koreas that extend back over several decades. In 1991, Dr. Moon met with then leader Kim Il Sung on a visit to Pyongyang, and more recently Hyung Jin Moon visited the North to offer condolences to Kim Jong-un when his father, Kim Jong-il, passed away.

The North also awarded Dr. Sun Myung Moon what it calls the National Reunification Prize in recognition of his contribution to inter-Korean reconciliation and unity, according to reports from the North’s Central News Agency. The prize was presented to Hyung Jin Moon by Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, a senior figure in the North Korean government.

“North Korea decided it could not send a delegation to the South for Rev. Moon’s Seonghwa [memorial service] because, frankly, North-South relations have been bad since the day President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008, and the DPRK is reluctant to have anything to do with the South as long as he’s in power," commented Dr. Mark Barry, an expert on North Korea.

“The sole exception was that the North was allowed to send a delegation for President Kim Dae Jung’s funeral in 2009, but that was because former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung had gone to Pyongyang for the first-ever North-South summit in 2000."

“In a letter, Kim Jong Un offered the highest praise to Father Moon for his 'feats' for the sake of national unity. Therefore, it’s a brilliant solution for Hyung Jin Moon to go the North, and a credit to the ROK government to allow him and Sang Kwon Park to cross the DMZ and go via the Unification Highway to Pyongyang and Chongju, Rev. Moon’s hometown."

Mourners in Pyongyang

A site set up in the World Peace Center, established in the center of Pyongyang at the initiative of Rev. Moon, enabled large numbers of DPRK officials, who otherwise could not have come to the South, to offer condolences.

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