SEOUL — South Korea on Thursday banned visits by its citizens to attend the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, while North Korea announced it would welcome such visits and revealed that a prominent South Korean already had arrived in Pyongyang.
Bo Hi Pak, a close assistant to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, was shown on North Korean television arriving at Pyongyang airport Wednesday. Korean American journalist Myung Ja Julie Moon and two pastors, identified as Kim Jin Kyung and Hong Dong Keun, accompanied Pak, who is also president of the Seoul-based Segye (World) Times, a daily newspaper.
Once a virulent foe of the Kim Il Sung government and a passionate advocate of anti-communism, the Rev. Moon, who lives in the United States, met Kim in Pyongyang in November, 1991.
The Segye newspaper reported that Pak traveled through Beijing to North Korea to attend Sunday's funeral for Kim and have an exclusive interview with Kim Jong Il, 52, son and heir apparent of the late North Korean dictator.
Pak, an American resident who holds South Korean citizenship, fulfilled a South Korean legal requirement by reporting his plan to visit Pyongyang on Wednesday at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, the newspaper reported.
With its announcement Thursday, the Seoul government served notice that citizens reporting plans to visit North Korea for the funeral will be denied permission. In announcing Saturday its plans for the funeral, North Korea said it would not allow foreigners to attend but until Thursday had said nothing about visits by Koreans.
North Korean media also reported that another assistant of the Rev. Moon had sent a message of condolences to North Korea along with word that Moon wants to meet Kim Jong Il.
In Seoul, university students staged early morning attacks on eight police stands and one police station to protest the arrest Wednesday of 55 student leaders for praising Kim Il Sung. The Korea University Students Assn. reportedly plans to send its own delegate to attend the funeral in Pyongyang.
By approving leaves Thursday for enlisted troops, South Korea's Defense Ministry, in effect, lifted an alert of the nation's 625,000 armed forces that it ordered immediately after the announcement of Kim Il Sung's death. The 37,000 American troops here stayed on normal status even during their allies' alert.
North Korea, which has been distributing waves of propaganda but only droplets of information since "the Great Leader" died last Friday, disclosed Thursday that Kim Il Chol, commander of the 46,000-member navy, had pledged his loyalty to Kim Jong Il. He was the first senior commander in the 1.1-million-member armed forces to offer such a pledge.
Meanwhile, "news" that the sacred 8,990-foot Mt. Paekdu, reputed in Korean mythology to be the birthplace of Dankun, the nation's creator, had joined the mourning for Kim Il Sung was reported elaborately.
North Korea said the mountain was struck by violent storms that started just as "the great heart of the supreme brain of the Korean revolution stopped beating. . . . At a time when the whole country is overcome by deep sorrow . . . the ancestral mountain is writhing in grief," the North Korean Central News agency reported.