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It is believed the North made the request yesterday, and it is being tied to the resumption of the so-called 'six-party' talks over North Korea's nuclear program. Before King Jong-il's death, the North said it would abandon the development of nuclear weapons if a series of six parties were held for it, but after six-parties were held between 2003 and 2007 the North said four of them hadn't been very good ones and it demanded a new round of six parties before it would abandon its nuclear ambitions. But the elaborate nature of these parties coupled with the North's exacting demands mean that after over four years, the international community is still trying to arrange the first party with the venue yet to be decided. The North is believed to have indicated that if emergency supplies of wailers are forthcoming, it will agree to attend the party, which will leave just five more remaining.
South Korea has a surplus of wailers and in recent years some have even gone professional, but hiring a professional wailer to fill in for a person at a funeral is still considered controversial, and many in the South would be happy to redirect such wailers to the North to assist them in their time of need. However, as public wailing is an important method of building social status in Korean culture, some are worried that sending wailers to the North will only strengthen the communist monarchy, and several experts suggest that withholding emergency supplies of wailers may even accelerate a peasant uprising and regime change. As such, it is thought Seoul will ultimately act on the request, partly because the economic cost of premature unification would be ruinous to the South, but mostly because it creates a bad precedent for political leaders at a time when peasants in South Korea are increasingly aware that they are getting poorer while their own so-called 'chaebol monarchy' is enriching itself.
The National Intelligence Service is believed to have advised caution. A spokesman, who said he couldn't give his age, told reporters that the request for wailers may be an attempt to win concessions from the South before six-party nuclear talks resume, and until North Korea officially announced the death of its leader it should be seen as being possibly an attempt to confuse the South as part of a misinformation campaign.
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