North Korea has expressed its condolences over last week’s
sinking of the Sewol passenger ferry, a disaster that is set to claim over 300 lives.
The message, conveyed via telephone, was sent from North Korea’s
Red Cross Chief Kang Su Rin to his South Korean counterpart Yoo Jung Keun.
“North Korea conveyed their deepest sympathies in regard to
the Sewol sinking that claimed many casualties including young schoolchildren
and leaving many persons missing,” a Ministry of Unification spokesperson told
press on April 23rd.
This is the first time North Korea has publicly
expressed its condolences relating to an incident in South Korea since 2003,
when both the Daegu subway fire and Typhoon Maemi led to considerable damage
and loss of life.
The message comes only days after North Korea slammed the “incompetent
response of the South Chosun authorities” to the sinking, declaring in a Rodong Sinmun piece on the 19th that “rescue efforts are so slow that the hearts of the
[ferry victims’] families are breaking.”