Yangon (The Korea Herald/ANN) - President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday mourned the 17 South Korean victims of a bombing by North Korean agents in Yangon in 1983.
After meeting with Myanmarese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, he visited the Martyr's Mausoleum, a monument to Suu Kyi's father and independence hero Gen. Aung San, amid tight security.
The attack left a total of 21 dead, and was aimed at assassinating then-President Chun Doo-hwan.
Lee laid a wreath to pay homage to the late leader Aung San and spent some moments of silence for the victims in the bombing.
"This is the place where 17 Korean senior officials were victimized. I hope that my visit could be some sort of solace to the bereaved families of the 17 victims (in the bombing) as this is the scene of the incident that should not have ever happened in the 20th century," Lee said.
"Such a history should not be repeated."
Lee's historic visit to Myanmar signaled a thaw in relations between the two countries.
On Oct. 9 in 1983, then-President Chun was on an official visit to the Yangon region. Chun was due to visit a Yangon mausoleum to commemorate the country's independence hero and Suu Kyi's father when the assassination attempt took place.
The visiting Korean president escaped from the attack as the bomb ripped through the Martyr's Mausoleum before his arrival. But the bomb killed 17 Seoul officials, including foreign minister Lee Beom-seok, and injured 15 delegates.
After the bombing Myanmar immediately cut off diplomatic relations with North Korea, though ties were restored in 2007.
South Korea has maintained diplomatic relations with Myanmar, but the relationship has been limited due to international criticism over the country's military dictatorship.
In 2005, the Seoul government ended its long-standing development loans to Myanmar in order to join international efforts to encourage reform in the country.
However, after Myanmar's military leaders formally stepped down last year, democratic leaders from across the globe, include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have flocked to the country.
South Korea's foreign minister Kim Sung-hwan also visited Myanmar earlier this month as the first Korean top diplomat to visit the country since 1985 to encourage further political and economic changes and to re-establish the relationship between the two countries.