South Korea Offers Condolences to North Korea Over Death of Leader

South Korea offered condolences Tuesday to North Korea's people as they mourn the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il and said it would allow the families of prominent South Koreans with ties to the North to visit.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik told reporters in Seoul that no official delegation will travel from Seoul to Pyongyang to pay respects. But he said the government will allow visits to the North by the families of former liberal President Kim Dae-jung, who held a landmark summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000, and former Hyundai Asan chairman Chung Mong-hun, who had business ties with North Korea.

Kim died Saturday of a massive heart attack caused by overwork and stress, North Korea announced Monday.

South Korea hopes North Korea will cooperate with Seoul for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula, Yu said.

He also said he will ask Christian groups to refrain from lighting giant steel Christmas trees near the border with North Korea, acts that the North views as propaganda warfare.

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