North Korean defectors call for postponement of mother, son funeral

North Korean defectors in the South say they have decided to postpone a funeral for a North Korean woman and her infant son because Seoul’s unification ministry is not meeting their demands.

Activists with an “emergency response committee” established after the death of Han Sung-ok and her son said Monday the ministry is responsible for a “breakdown” in negotiations regarding a list of their demands, Yonhap reported.

“We will fight to the end of the unification ministry, without providing new measures, proceed with the funeral,” the activists said.

Han and her son were found dead in their apartment in southern Seoul in July. The family may have died of starvation at least a month before local authorities entered their apartment to find their decomposing corpses.

According to activists on Monday, the group requested Seoul “apologize” for the incident, asked for the resignation of the head of the Korea Hana Foundation, a government agency, and demanded a nationwide network be established for North Korean defectors in the South.

The activists also said they are seeking the creation of a council that could negotiate between the unification ministry and various defector groups.

The defectors added the unification ministry is “avoiding” the demands and making it appear the Hana Foundation is responsible for the delay, according to local news service Seoul Pyongyang News.

The ministry had said it had engaged in three days of negotiations with the foundation but was unable to arrive at a solution on the “10.28 agreement,” according to Yonhap.

Under the 10.28 agreement, South Korean lawmakers and defectors agreed to hold Han’s funeral this Sunday, and to provide a permanent memorial for Han by Friday.

Han was granted residence in the South in 2009. According to defectors who spoke to UPI, Han had two sons and her second son had died with her, while her ex-husband, a Chinese national, took her firstborn to China.


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