SEOUL, July 16 -- Police arrested a leading dissident and a companion Saturday while they were trying to reach the South-North Korea border hoping to cross into North Korea to mourn the death of North Korean President Kim Il-sung. More than 3,000 former residents of North Korea held a rally and burned Kim Il-sung in effigy and urged the government to sternly cope with those who mourn with his death. Kang Hui-nam, 75, chairman of the Southern chapter of the Pan- National Alliance for the Unification of the Fatherland, and an unidentified companion were stopped by police halfway to the Panmunjom truce village 35 miles (56 km) north of Seoul. Both were questioned by police, who also picked up two others at Kang's office, a police spokesman said. Kang could be prosecuted under the National Security Law, which bans sympathizing with North Korea and outlaws unauthorized travel to the North. The alliance is an organization with a North Korean chapter. It also is affiliated with groups of overseas Koreans who have often sided with North Korea on key political issues. Since the announcement of Kim Il-sung's death, the South Korean government has repeatedly warned against sending condolences or mourning missions to the North. Early Saturday, Kang's organization issued a statement and said it will send a condolence mission to North Korea. Kang hailed a taxi following the announcement and was on his way to the border when he was stopped by police. More than 3,000 members of a North Korean refugees association denounced Kim Il-sung as a war criminal who touched off the bloody 1950- 53 Korean War.
'We cannot idly look on such anti-national and anti-democratic acts as offering condolences for Kim Il-sung's death and setting up altars for him,' they said, urging the government to take a firm stand against those who advocate sympathy for Kim's death. Another group of 300 people, including retired politicians, lawyers and soldiers formed a national conference for freedom and democracy and opposed a summit meeting with Kim Il-sung's successor. 'Kim Il-sung is dead but his crimes against the nation cannot be forgiven,' the conference said. 'We oppose a South-North summit with a man who succeeds his dictatorship and anti-national policy line.' In a related development, a poll taken of 300 students at Seoul's Sogan University showed 44.2 percent thought Kim Il-sung's death was good news, though it was regrettable he died while awaiting an inter- Korea summit, Yonhap News Agency said. Regarding whether to send a government mourning mission to the North, 42.6 percent thought it would help future relations with the North, 25 percent said the government should send one, and 22.3 percent thought public sentiment opposed it.