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Main opposition party rallies against planned visit by N.K. official accused of sinking Cheonan

All Headlines 11:11 February 23, 2018

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- Members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party held a rally in front of Cheong Wa Dae on Friday in protest of a planned visit to South Korea by a top North Korean official accused of masterminding the deadly 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship.

Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, is scheduled to cross the border on Sunday for a three-day visit as the head of an eight-member delegation to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Kim, a former top military official who headed North Korea's reconnaissance bureau, has been accused of orchestrating the torpedo attack that sank the South Korean warship Cheonan near the western sea border, killing 46 sailors.

Thursday's announcement of Kim's planned visit sparked angry reactions from the main opposition LKP and other conservative critics. They claimed that Kim should never be allowed to visit the South and must be immediately arrested if he does set foot in the South.

On Friday, dozens of LKP lawmakers held a protest in front of the presidential office, offering a moment of silence for the 46 sailors killed in the Cheonan's sinking, chanting slogans denouncing the government and calling for punishing Kim Yong-chol.

"We absolutely oppose a visit to the South by Kim Yong-chol, the main culprit of the Cheonan's sinking," Rep. Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the LKP, said during the rally. "Kim Yong-chol's visit should be immediately scrapped."

Inviting the North Korean official, who deserves "death by beating," to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics is something that should never happen, the lawmaker said.

"There are things that we should do and we shouldn't. Nonetheless, if the president insists on accepting Kim Yong-chol, he should do so after announcing to the people that North Korea promised to scrap its nuclear weapons," he said.

Kim said the party will mobilize all possible means to block the visit.

Members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party hold a rally in front of Cheong Wa Dae on Feb. 23 to protest a planned visit by a North Korean official accused of masterminding the 2010 sinking of the warship Cheonan. (Yonhap)

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