Quick links: Breaking Election Invest Bitcoin Syria North Korea Hot clicks Scandal Topless
www.paywallnews.com Only News Behind Paywalls
The Age / News - Politics

'Positive atmosphere' as South Koreans dine with Kim Jong-un

A South Korean delegation met the North's leader Kim Jong-un on Monday, on a visit aimed at encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk.

  • World
  • Asia
  • North Korea

'Positive atmosphere' as South Koreans dine with Kim Jong-un

By Christine Kim6 March 2018 — 6:16am

Normal text sizeLarger text sizeVery large text size

Seoul: A South Korean delegation met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on his patch on Monday, a South Korean official said, on a visit aimed at encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk.

Both North Korea and the US have expressed a willingness to hold talks, but the US position has been that they must be aimed at North Korea's denuclearisation, something Pyongyang has rejected.

A group of high-level South Korean officials has left for North Korea for talks on North Korea's nuclear program and ways to help resume talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Photo: AP

It has been developing nuclear-tipped missiles and has vowed never to give up what it calls an essential deterrent against American hostility.

Pyongyang is also concerned about joint US-South Korea military exercises, which it sees as preparations for war.

The 10-member South Korean delegation, led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, was greeted by North Korean officials after landing in Pyongyang, said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea's presidential office.

South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong on his way to the North.

Photo: AP

The welcoming delegation included Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, and Kim Yong Chol, who heads the United Front Department, the North Korean office responsible for handling inter-Korean affairs. Both visited South Korea during the Olympics.

The South Korean delegation was later invited to join Kim Jong-un for dinner, the South Korean spokesman added.

The officials are the most senior South Koreans to meet Kim since he took power in late 2011.

Kim Jong-un at a parade last month.

Photo: AP

"We will deliver President Moon Jae-in's wish to bring about denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and permanent peace by extending the goodwill and better inter-Korean relations created by the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics," Chung said before heading to the North.

Chung's team includes National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.

Seoul hopes the visit will create "a positive atmosphere", Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said.

The demilitarised zone in red between the two Koreas.

Photo: AP

Chung and Suh are due to fly to Washington later in the week to brief US officials on their discussions in the North. The White House and State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Thawing relations between the Koreas have prompted speculation about direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang despite months of tension and bellicose insults between US President Donald Trump and Kim that fuelled fears of war.

North Korea has not carried out any weapons tests since late November, when it tested its largest intercontinental ballistic missile. Inter-Korean talks began after Kim said in his New Year's address that he wanted to engage the South.

North Korea later sent athletes to the Winter Olympics in the South, as well as a high-ranking delegation that included Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong.

Moon Jae-in, right, talks with Kim Yo-jong, centre, ,during the Winter Olympics.

Photo: AP

Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South and its US ally have remained technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the US, which has 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the Korean War.

North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper reiterated last month that the country would never give up its nuclear weapons, in spite of international pressure.

"Neither sanctions nor provocations nor threats can ever undermine our position of a nuclear weapons state," it said.

"Hoping that the DPRK would abandon its nuclear programs is as foolish an act as trying to wish seas to get dried up," it said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

South Korean officials have said the US joint drills will restart next month as planned, after being postponed for the Olympics.

The Pentagon said it was "cautiously optimistic" about the North-South talks, which resumed in January.

"Our job is to make sure that we maintain those military operations to defend the Korean peninsula and we will [stand] shoulder to shoulder with our South Korean partners," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters.

"But we are cautiously optimistic and obviously we encourage the dialogue to take place," Manning added.


  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • USA

Comments disabled

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

Email address

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use