Tuesday, June 22, 2010

South Korean activist blames President Lee Myung-bak for sinking of Cheonan

A South Korean activist on an unauthorized trip to North Korea on Tuesday blamed his country's conservative president - not the communist North - for the deadly sinking of one of Seoul's warships.

Rev. Han Sang-ryol is a member of a small-but-vocal minority of South Korean activists and religious groups who are sympathetic to North Korea and call for unification of the two countries.

North Korea has embraced Han's visit, which began June 12, according to the country's state media. Seoul, however, has said that Han did not have permission to travel to the northern neighbor and that the government will handle his case according to a law that can put him in prison for up to three years.

Han, who works for Seoul-based Korea Alliance Progressive Movements, gave a rare news conference in Pyongyang, criticizing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for allegedly discarding past rapprochement accords with North Korea and raising tension by staging joint military exercises with the United States.

Lee has taken a harder line on North Korea than his liberal predecessor, linking aid to North Korea's denuclearization, and relations between the two Koreas have worsened as a result.

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