27 Dec 2011

South Korea's former first lady meets Kim Jong-un

3:12 pm on 27 December 2011

Government officials in South Korea say two of its most prominent citizens have met the man presumed to be North Korea's next leader.

Former South Korean First Lady Lee Hee-ho, the widow of the late South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, and Hyundai firm head Hyun Jung-Eun will spend two days in Pyongyang.

The two South Koreans travelled to the North to pay their respects to its former leader Kim Jong Il, whose death was announced last week.

Seoul has banned most South Koreans from visiting the North to express condolences, angering its neighbour.

The two women have been given special permission to pay their respects in person because both families have received personal condolences from North Korea in the past.

The BBC reports that both women have strong ties to the North.

Former President Kim Dae-jung held the first inter-Korea summit with Kim Jong-il in 2000, while Hyundai has been a key economic investor into Pyongyang.

Government officials say the meeting was thought to be brief.

The BBC reports if it's true the visit would mark the first contact between South Korean nationals and North Korea's leader-in-waiting.

But Seoul officials have stressed the women are visiting in a purely personal capacity and that they are carrying no message from the South Korean government.