A delegation of 18 private individuals from South Korea crossed the border into the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea on Dec. 26, to pay their respects to Kim Jong-il. The visitors will leave prior to the funeral of Kim Jong-il which will be held on Wednesday, and to which no foreign delegations have been invited.
Kim Jung-um was shown on state television greeting Lee Hee Ho, 89, the widow of former President Kim Dae Jung, and Hyun Jeong Eun of Hyundai. They expressed their condolences and France 24
reported a spokesperson for Lee said they received "warm and respectful treatment."
Technically North and South Korea remain at war and families divided as there are strict laws preventing nationals crossing the border. Msnbc
cites increased tensions since the election of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in 2008, when aid to the North was cut in an increased effort to deter expansion of the nuclear program.
reported "North Korea warned on Dec. 25 of "unpredictable catastrophic consequences" after the government in Seoul restricted condolences. Allowing just two delegations to visit the North, South Korea was labeled "inhuman" by authorities in Pyongyang.
It is too early to predict if the death of the "dear leader" will result in moves towards reunification, though the financial costs involved may deter South Korea from pursuing that option. However, the status quo is one which poses considerable danger in the region as the situation in North Korea remains uncertain.