North Korea Critical of Seoul’s Response to Leader’s Death

Posted December 24th, 2011 at 11:35 pm (UTC-5)
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North Korea is blasting South Korea's decision to send only two groups to Pyongyang to pay respects to the late leader Kim Jong Il.

A spokesman for the North Korean state office that handles cross-border relations warned Sunday that the action could trigger “unpredictable catastrophic consequences.”

Pyongyang accused Seoul of preventing other South Koreans from crossing the border to pay respects and suggested the move could strain relations between the two countries.

South Korea announced Saturday its decision to send two groups. A Unification Ministry spokesman said no government officials would accompany the delegations.

Meanwhile, preparations are under way for a Wednesday funeral for Kim Jong Il, who is said to have died December 17.

Late Saturday, North Korea's official news agency announced a new title for Kim Jong Un, the late leader's son who is the country's new ruler.

The Korean Central News Agency called Kim Jong Un the “supreme leader of the revolutionary armed forces.''

Earlier Saturday, the official news agency hailed Kim Jong Un as “supreme commander” – the first use of that title, also used by his late father.

On Sunday, the Associated Press said North Korea's state media had shown video of Kim Jong Un's uncle wearing a military uniform with a general's insignia. The move could indicate that Jang Song Thaek will play a significant role in Kim Jong Un's rise to power.

Kim Jong Un is in his late 20s. He holds the military rank of a four-star general, despite having little military experience.

A South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman said the two delegations traveling to Pyongyang will include relatives of the late South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, who began a process of detente with North Korea in the late 1990s, and the late president of the Hyundai Group, Chung Mong-hun.