Posted : 2018-02-13 16:50
Updated : 2018-02-13 22:39

North Korean leader bolsters peace offensive

By Kim Bo-eun

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's peace offensive toward the South is raising speculation of further progress in inter-Korean relations.

The North's state news agency reported Tuesday that Kim provided a detailed plan on developing inter-Korean relations after being briefed by a high-level delegation on its visit to the South for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

"(Kim) expressed gratitude, stating it was impressive that the South set importance on the visit by our delegation, and made the utmost efforts to assist and support their activities," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report said.

The article quoted Kim as stating "It is important to keep accumulating fine results, by taking the atmosphere of reconciliation and dialogue a step further."

Pyongyang sent its state leader's sister Kim Yo-jong as part of the delegation to the South for the Games, at which she invited President Moon Jae-in to visit the North for talks on her brother's behalf.

Inter-Korean relations have made progress in the New Year on the occasion of the Olympics after Pyongyang conducted a series of missile and nuclear provocations last year. High-level talks were held after almost two years to discuss North Korea's participation in the Games after South Korea and the U.S. pushed back their joint military exercises until after the sporting event.

North Korea sent a large-scale delegation to the Olympics, including Kim, the first member of the ruling family to visit the South. Kim and other high-level delegates held talks with President Moon, and watched a joint Korean women's ice hockey team's match, as well as a performance by a North Korean music troupe together.

"Kim presented in detail the direction in which inter-Korean relations should develop and ordered plans to be set up to this end," the KCNA report said.

Although the article did not specify what these plans were, inter-Korean exchanges are set to reopen.

Discussions on hosting military talks will likely take place soon. In high-level talks between the Koreas, Jan. 9, they agreed to resume military talks, but arrangements have yet to be made. The North and South were instead focusing on the logistics pertaining to Pyongyang's participation in the Olympics.

The defense ministry said Tuesday it is waiting for a response from Pyongyang with regards to the military talks.

Attention is also growing over the possible resumption of reunions of family members separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War.

The South proposed this in the inter-Korean talks in January, but Pyongyang did not provide an immediate positive response.

"We will carefully review plans through discussions with related parties," a unification ministry official said, Tuesday.

The official said "the family reunions or easing military tension between the Koreas are matters that can be resolved through negotiations between the North and South."

Meanwhile, non-governmental exchanges are set to take place.

"The government's stance is that non-governmental exchanges take place regardless of political circumstances," the official said.

Applications from the private sector for exchange with the North have continued to stream in, according to the ministry.

In the meantime, the KCNA reported Kim also met with members of the North's Samjiyon Orchestra that returned after staging two performances in the South for the Olympics.

The report stated Kim was "greatly satisfied" with their performance.

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