More than 1 million mourners, summoned by the wail...

By JAMES KIM  |  Oct. 12, 1983
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SEOUL, South Korea -- More than 1 million mourners, summoned by the wail of sirens, bowed their heads in prayer Thursday at a state funeral for 17 South Koreans killed in the weekend bombing in Burma.

The death toll in the bombing -- which Seoul blamed on North Korean commandoes -- rose to 17 shortly before the services began in Yoido Plaza.

Officials said Vice Minister of Finance Lee Ki-uk, 47, died from chest and head injuries at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines where he was flown for treatment following the blast in Rangoon Sunday.

The officials said he will be included in the memorial service although his burial will not occur until Monday.

Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger led a U.S. delegation at the funeral and officials said 1,000 people in delegations from 28 other nations attended.

Sirens wailed nationwide for one minute to mark the day of mourning and the start of silent prayers at 10 a.m. (9 p.m. EDT Wednesday).

The service preceded burial at the Dongjak-dong National Cemetery, the final resting place for South Korea's national heroes andwar dead.

Police said the crowd exceeded 1 million people nearly two hours before the ceremony began. President Chun Doo Hwan, who survived the bombing because a traffic jam delayed his arrival at a wreath-laying ceremony at Burma's National Cemetery, did not attend the service.

'Incredibly, this heinous atrocity ... was perpetrated by the North Korean communists who are of the same blood as we,' said Premier Kim Sang-hyup.

'They must realize that there is a limit to our perseverance and magnanimity.'

A large, black-ribboned photo of each of the dead was placed on an altar surrounded by yellow and white chrysantehmums, incense burners and the medals the government awarded them.

'This cursed tragedy cannot be the real intention of Heaven,' Kim said, calling the victims 'the proud pillars of this country, men of great character, outstanding ability and burning patritotism.'

Bereaved family members, clad in white or black mourning dress, quietly sOed tears during the service.

On Wednesday, North Korea denied as 'preposterous and ridiculous' South Korean charges that it was responsible for the bombing. Four South Korean cabinet members were among those killed, along with four Burmese nationals.

The dead included four cabinet members: Deputy Premier Economic Planning Minister Suh Suk-joon, Foreign Minister Lee Bum-suk, Commerce Industry Minister Kim Dong-whie, and Energy Resources Minister Suh Sang-chul.

Also killed were Chief Presidential Secretary Hahm Pyong-choon, and Senior Presidential Economic Adviser Kim Jae-ik.

The 600,000-strong South Korean army was put on alert, and North Korea also stepped up combat readiness on the 151-mile border where 40,000 U.S. soldiers are based. No incidents were reported, but the region remained tense.

The South Korean charge d'affaires in Rangoon said in a report to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul that Burmese authorities believe the attack was the work of five North Korean assassins.

The Burmese government said its security forces have killed one 'Korean' terrorist and captured two others.

But one of the captured men triggered a hand grenade that killed three Burmese policemen and left him seriously wounded, a government statement said. It did not say whether the Korean suspects were from the north or the south.

Seoul officials said Burmese police, assisted by South Korean experts, found a remote control device and 16 Japanese-made batteries used to detonate the bomb attached to the ceiling of a memorial to Burma's national heroes.

The batteries, manufactured by Japan's Hitachi Eletric Co., and other items are the same as commonly used by North Korean agents in infiltrating into South Korea, the officials said.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, without official attribution, reported 30 North Korean commandos disguised as workers for an iron-casting plant infiltrated into Burma on a merchant ship and planted the bomb.

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