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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Former South Korean First Lady Visits Pyongyang

by VOA News August 05, 2015

The widow of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung is making a rare visit to North Korea to help improve chronically strained relations between the two longtime foes.

Lee Hee-ho and her 18-member delegation departed Wednesday from an airport in Seoul for the four-day visit, which has not been officially sanctioned by the South Korean government.

The former first lady hopes her trip will help 'heal the pain and wounds of 70 years of separation for both sides,' according to former South Korean Culture Minister Kim Sung Jae, who is traveling with Lee.

'And she also wishes for the two Koreas to reconcile, cooperate, love and visit each other in a peaceful atmosphere,' Kim said before departing.

Lee's visit is being billed as a humanitarian effort, but there is also speculation that she could also meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who invited the former first lady.

The two met in 2011, when Lee visited Pyongyang to pay condolences following the death of Kim's father, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Lee's husband, Kim Dae-jung, was president from 1998 to 2003. His so-called 'Sunshine Policy' helped usher in a brief period of better relations with North Korea.

The period of rapprochement came to an end in 2007 with the election of a more conservative South Korean government. Relations have since soured after North Korea made several nuclear and missile tests.

Tensions between the two Koreas constantly flare up. The two countries are still technically at war following their 1950s conflict, which ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

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