SKorean groups go to NKorea to pay respect to Kim

December 25, 2011 - 9:01 PM
North Korea Kim Jong Il

In this Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed in Tokyo, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, by the Korea News Service, Kim Jong Un, center, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's youngest known son and successor, visits at Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, to pay respect to his father. At far left front is Jong Un's uncle Jang Song Thaek. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service) JAPAN OUT UNTIL 14 DAYS AFTER THE DAY OF TRANSMISSION

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Two groups of South Koreans with ties to Pyongyang have crossed the heavily fortified border to pay respect for late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said Monday that the civilian delegations plan to visit Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace where Kim's body is lying in state.

The two groups are led by the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, who held a landmark summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000, and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, whose late husband had ties to the North.

South Korea has only allowed the two groups to visit and pay condolences for the death of Kim on Dec. 17.

North Korea has warned South Korea not to bar other groups to visit the North saying such an obstruction would worsen ties.