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S. Koreans bid farewell to former president Roh

Author: yangjianyue

Source: TCM

Time: 5/30/2009 2:33:41 AM

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Former South Korean president Roh Moo- hyun's funeral was held Friday in Seoul's historic royal palace, Gyeongbok Palace, attended by some 3,000 people, including President Lee Myung-bak.

After having a one-hour-long traditional departure ceremony in Bongha village, some 450 km south of Seoul, the late president's hearse left his hometown at around local time 06:00 (2100 GMT Thursday), with around 20,000 people gathered to see off the ex- president.

Arriving from the ex-president's home in Bongha village to Seoul, the ceremony began at local time 11:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) and lasted about an hour and a half.

As a "people's funeral," the ceremony was jointly led by former Prime Minister Han Myung-sook and the incumbent Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, after which various regional rituals were held.

"We have gathered here today to say goodbye to former President Roh Moo-hyun, who was a true 'people's president'," Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said in his memorial address.

"President, we are sorry we made you suffer. We love you. Leave behind your burden and rest in peace," said Roh's former Prime Minister Han Myung-sook, her voice breaking in tears.

Many international leaders and diplomats, including Kathleen Stephens, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, paid tribute to the late president as well.

In memory of the late president, three of the songs Roh was fond of were played at the ceremony.

While the funeral ceremony was held, those who could not enter the Gyeongbok Palace watched the ceremony from a large screen outside.

Waves of yellow, Roh's symbol color as it was used for his 2002 presidential election, filled the streets outside the palace as mourners tied yellow ribbons on their arms and necks to show respect to their late leader.

The funeral will be followed by an on-foot procession, which mourners outside the palace are expected to join.

The procession will make a stop at the central Seoul Plaza for a traditional memorial rite to wish peaceful rest for the deceased.

The ex-president's body will be cremated in Suwon, south of Seoul, afterwards, as he explicitly had asked for it on his note, with the remainder to be taken for burial near his home in Bongha Village.

Since Roh's death by jumping off a rock last week, nearly one million mourners have made the pilgrimage to the ex-president's hometown Bongha as of Friday morning.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the altar in tribute of Roh, set up in the South Korean Embassy in Washington D.C, praising his dedication to democracy and rights.

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