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President returns to work after his mother’s funeral service

Nov 01,2019
Following the funeral service of his mother, Kang Han-ok, at a catholic church in Busan, President Moon Jae-in returned to the Blue House on Thursday.

The president will resume his work starting today, presidential spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said.

About 1,500 people, including Moon’s family, officials from the ruling and opposition parties, Blue House officials and members of the church, attended the funeral at the Namcheon Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the morning. Kang died on Tuesday evening at the age of 92, and Moon and his family observed a three-day mourning period. The funeral mass followed a traditional Catholic protocol, and no special arrangements were made for the president, those who attended the ceremony said.

Moon’s spiritual mentor, Father Song Gi-in, and other senior politicians attended the mass. National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, Chairman Lee Hae-chan of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), Chief of Staff Noh Young-min and Director of National Security Chung Eui-yong were also present along with other DP lawmakers and presidential aides.

The mass was presided over by Bishop Joseph Son Sam-seok. Pope Francis sent a message of condolence to Moon, which was read during the mass and then delivered to the president. The ceremony ended at 11:10 a.m., after which the family held a private burial ceremony at the Haneul Cemetery for the Catholic Diocese of Busan in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang. The late Kang was buried next to the grave of her husband, who died in 1978. Following the burial ceremony, Moon issued a message to express his appreciation to the people who had shared his grief. “I deeply appreciate the people who expressed heartwarming consolations to our family,” Moon was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman Ko.

“My mother is at rest in peace, ending a life full of ups and downs since she was separated from her family and settled in the South,” Moon said. The late Kang was a Korean War refugee from the North. “I hope she will meet my father, visit her hometown and meet her parents and her six siblings.”

During the three-day mourning period, Moon only received a handful of guests, including heads of opposition parties, diplomats from major countries and religious leaders.

Chairman Hong Moon-jong of Our Republican Party, a far-right political party loyal to former President Park Geun-hye, was the last politician to pay a visit to Moon at the mourning altar Thursday morning before the funeral mass.

During their three-minute meeting, Moon and Hong discussed the issues concerning Park. Since March 2017, Park has been detained on charges of power abuse, corruption and election law violations. She, however, was temporarily freed from jail and sent to a hospital last month to have surgery on her left shoulder.

“I asked Moon to pay special attention to Park,” Hong said after he met with Moon. “Moon said he did make arrangements,” Hong said. “He said Park was allowed to be hospitalized and a desk was placed [in her room].”

Hong said he has asked Moon to issue a presidential pardon for Park. “I think he understood what I was asking for,” Hong said. “I asked him to take a good care of Park.”

“He didn’t give a specific answer,” Hong said. “He just smiled.”

A Blue House official said Moon walked Hong out of the mourning alter while talking with him. “It was the first time that the president came out this far to see a guest off,” the official said. Hong did not attend the funeral mass later in the morning.

Other opposition leaders, Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, Bareunmirae Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, Justice Party Chairwoman Sim Sang-jung and Chairman of the Party for Democracy and Peace Chung Dong-young all completed their visits on Wednesday. Moon, however, turned down meetings with almost all ruling party politicians.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]