North Korea on Wednesday offered condolences to South Korea for the April 16 Sewol ferry sinking, South’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) said.
The Red Cross Society of North Korea sent a message to its southern counterpart offering commiserations for the sinking, which is now the largest maritime disaster in South Korea’s history.
A message was sent bearing the name of the Chief of the North Korea Red Cross, Kang Su-rin, addressed to President of the South Korean Red Cross, Yoo Jung-keun, the MOU said on Wednesday.
The Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) issued a brief article titled, “Sympathy to S. Korean Red Cross”, in which it confirmed the delivery of the message.
“The message expressed deep sympathy as regards the sinking of the ferry “Sewol” in the waters off Jin Island, South Jolla Province on April 16 claiming many casualties including young schoolchildren and leaving many persons missing,” the article said.
The North Korean message of condolence comes a week after the Sewol first sank and capsized in waters off the south of the peninsula with 476 people aboard – 339 of whom were high school students and teachers.
South Korean authorities were initially able to rescue 174 people on Wednesday but have since confirmed at least 150 fatalities, with the remaining 152 missing and presumed to be dead as well.
North Korea’s previous mentions of the Sewol disaster came earlier this week from state and pro-DPRK outlets, with the first being a brief news report issued by Korea Central News Agency on April 19.
Subsequent coverage from North Korea focused on criticizing the South Korean government’s response to the incident, with state run television network KCTV and the national Rodong Sinmun newspaper complaining about the slow nature of the rescue.
North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri also carried a report criticizing the South Korean government’s response to the incident.
“All classes in South Chosun (Korea) claim the responsibility, for this incident lies fully on the incompetence of the current government,” the report said.
South Korea has yet to respond to the message.
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