Unification Church president on condolence visit to N. Korea

Yonhap News Agency, South Korea/December 26, 2011

Seoul, Eoul -- The youngest son of Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon is visiting Pyongyang to pay his respects to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the church said Monday.

Moon Hyung-jin, president of the Unification Church, laid a wreath at the Kimilsung square after arriving in Pyongyang Saturday, it said.

"President Moon, who was staying in the United States, visited the North without announcing his plans, and is expected to return to the U.S. after attending Kim's funeral scheduled for Wednesday," a church official said requesting not to be named.

The 32-year-old Moon was accompanied by Park Sang-kwon, president of Pyeonghwa (Peace) Motors, an inter-Korean joint venture in the North, and Joo Dong-moon, president of The Washington Times, companies both owned by the church, the official said.

Church founder Moon Sun-myung was born in what is now North Korea.

South Korea expressed sympathies to North Koreans over Kim's death and has allowed civilians and private organizations to send messages of condolence to the North. However, Seoul decided not to expand civilian delegations beyond those of Lee Hee-ho, the 90-year-old widow of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, who both have ties with the North.

The Pyongyang visit by the younger Moon and his church delegates is possible because they are American citizens. South Koreans require government approval to visit the North as the two sides remain technically at war.

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