N. Korea: 4 died for leaders' sake

Chicago Sun-Times/April 29, 2004
By Hans Greimel

Seoul, South Korea -- A South Korean ship brimming with instant noodles, blankets and bottled water sailed Wednesday for North Korea as an international effort intensified to help thousands injured or left homeless in last week's deadly train explosion.

Seoul also moved closer to approving a controversial North Korean plea for millions of dollars in additional aid, including 50 color television sets. The request came after impoverished North Korea rejected Seoul's offer to send doctors.

North Korea, meanwhile, lauded the ''heroic deaths'' of four people killed after running into collapsing or burning buildings after the explosion to retrieve portraits of leader Kim Jong Il and his late father, national founder Kim Il Sung.

''The Korean people's spirit of guarding the leader with their very lives was fully displayed,'' the North's official KCNA news agency said, adding that teacher Han Jong Suk, 56, ''breathed her last with portraits in her bosom.''

The leaders are objects of a personality cult in the Communist North, with father-and-son portraits hanging in every home.

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