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NK leader's wreath sent to late ex-first lady expected to be preserved permanently

All Headlines 13:37 June 16, 2019

SEOUL, June 16 (Yonhap) -- A wreath of flowers that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent for the funeral of late former South Korean first lady Lee Hee-ho is expected to be preserved permanently, an official said Sunday.

Kim sent a condolence message and the wreath of white chrysanthemums to South Korea on Wednesday after Lee, wife of late former President Kim Dae-jung, died Monday. Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, delivered the message and the wreath at the border village of Panmunjom.

The wreath was decorated with a black ribbon with golden letters saying, "In memory of the late Lee Hee-ho" and "Kim Jong-un."

A day before the funeral, which took place Friday the wreath was moved to the nearby Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library and Museum.

"The wreath is now in the storage of the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library and Museum," said an official from the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center, where Lee had served as the chairperson. "We will hold a meeting to decide what to do with it."

One of the options under consideration is to specially treat the flowers to make them artificial ones.

The library also keeps another wreath, which it specially treated, that was given by Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean leader, over the death of Kim Dae-jung in 2009.

"We made that decision to mark the gift from North Korea," said the official from the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center.

Another official from the center said the disposal of a North Korean gift may be a sensitive issue.

"Regarding the inter-Korean relationship, it could cause a conflict if we throw away the North Korean wreath carelessly," he said.

Kim Yo-jong (R), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, speaks to Chung Eui-yong (C), head of South Korea's presidential National Security Office, and Rep. Park Jie-won of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone, on June 12, 2019, in this photo released by the unification ministry. Kim delivered to Chung and Park a condolence message and a wreath of flowers that the North Korean leader sent to the funeral of Lee Hee-ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung who died on June 10 at age 96. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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