A group of 300-member South Korean civic delegation left for Pyongyang earlier Tuesday to attend a joint celebration of the 5th anniversary of the historical summit between South Korea's then President Kim Dae-jung and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s leader Kim Jong Il in June 2000.
Led by Paik Nak-cheong, an honorary professor at Seoul National University, the delegation set off on a chartered aircraft to fly directly over the Yellow Sea to Pyongyang from South Korean Incheon International Airport, reported South Korean Yonhap News Agency.
The delegation, composed of representatives from labor unions, farming organizations, religious groups and politicians from both ruling and opposition parties, is to stay in the DPRK for four days.
"The event will reaffirm the spirit of the June 15 summit that opened a new era of reconciliation between the two sides," the delegation said in a statement released before leaving.
South Korea and the DPRK are also expected to demonstrate to the world their united commitment to peace, the release added.
Delegates from South Korea and the DPRK plan to take part in a march in downtown Pyongyang later Tuesday ahead of a ceremony at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in the evening, said Yonhap.
On Wednesday, speeches will be given by representatives of South Korean and DPRK civic groups and leaders of Korean communities outside the peninsula.
Art performances will follow on Wednesday and Thursday evening.
Separate meetings between civic organizations of the two countries will be held on Thursday on the sidelines of the festival, followed by goodwill sports matches and the closing ceremony in the evening.
Moreover, the 40-member South Korean government delegation to the joint celebration, led by South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, is to head for Pyongyang on a separate flight Tuesday afternoon.
Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the DPRK Workers' Party Central Committee, will lead the 24-member DPRK government delegation to the joint celebration.
During the visit, Chung will pay a courtesy call to Kim Yong Nam, chairman of the DPRK Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, on Thursday, said Yonhap.
Chung is reportedly to relay the results of last week's Seoul-Washington summit and urge Pyongyang to return to the stalled six-party talks aimed at ending nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
The South Korean civic and government delegations are to return to South Korea on Friday.
(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2005)