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S. Korea allows son of late N.K. official to visit Pyongyang

All Headlines 22:29 November 24, 2016

SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry said Thursday that it has approved a request by a South Korean to visit the North and attend a funeral for his mother who defected to the North decades ago and became a high-ranking official there.

Ryu Mi-yong, former member of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea and chairwoman of the Central Committee of the Chondoist Chongu Party, died of lung cancer at the age of 95 on Wednesday, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Ryu and her husband Choe Tok-sin, who served as a foreign minister in South Korea during the 1960s, emigrated to the U.S. in 1976. Both later defected to the North in 1986, leaving behind two sons and three daughters.

A unification ministry spokesman earlier said that their second son living in South Korea recently requested a visit to the North after hearing that his mother was in critical condition. The ministry approved the request last Saturday.

Currently, he is in Pyongyang. He is being allowed to stay there for seven days, the spokesman said.

This marks the first time that an individual has been allowed to visit the North this year. All inter-Korean exchanges have been suspended amid tensions sparked by the North's continued missile and nuclear provocations.

Later in the day, the KCNA called Ryu a "patriotic political figure who devoted herself to the prosperity of the nation and independent reunification of the country."

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