05/25/2009, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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South Koreans in mourning for the death Roh Moo-hyun, North Korea sends its condolences

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
Kim Jong-il expresses “profound condolences” to the family of the former president. Yesterday the country paid its respect to Roh. Funeral will be held next Friday and will be public. Judges end corruption probe.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – South Korea is mourning the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun, who killed himself last Saturday at the age of 63. A public funeral will be held next Frdiay.

Leaders from around the world have sent messages of condolences, including North Korea’s Kim Jong-il.

"On hearing the news that former President Roh Moo-hyun died in an accident, I express profound condolences to widow Kwon Yang-sook and his bereaved family," Kim was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency.

Roh and his family were under investigation for corruption. His suicide is likely due to a psychological breakdown due to the probe.

Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said Kim was paying his tribute through state media and that no letter had been received by the family, adding that is "not likely, given current inter-Korean relations.”

North Korea briefly reported the news Sunday. On the cause of his death, state media only said that South Korean and foreign media reports were suspecting "the mental burden caused by the intensive investigation of the prosecution.”

As president Mr Roh had sought a dialogue with the Communist regime of North Korea, continuing the “sunshine policy” inaugurated by his predecessor Kim Dae Jung in 1998.

In the meantime an endless stream of mourners nationwide paid their last respects Sunday to the late former President Roh.

A public funeral will take place Friday at his birthplace in Bongha Village, South Gyeongsang Province, some 450 kilometres southeast of Seoul, despite opposition by the family.

The former head of state will be cremated before burial near his hometown in accordance with his wishes.

As a result of Roh’s death prosecutors have decided to close the book on the corruption case involving the late former leader.  

The public prosecutor also decided to suspend the probe involving his wife and children (a son and a daughter) because the key witness was no longer available.

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