Kim Jong-un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang at the “earliest date possible” in a letter delivered during an informal lunch meeting yesterday at the presidential palace in Seoul.
Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, hand-delivered the letter to Moon as the North Korean delegation met with southern officials.
Moon showed himself willing to visit Pyongyang, and said both Koreas should “accomplish this by creating the right conditions.” He also suggested that North Korea should engage in talks with the United States.
If it takes place, the visit would be the first meeting of Korean leaders since Roh Moo-hyun visited Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in October 2007 for a summit regarding nuclear issues.
The 22-member delegation of North Korean high-level officers arrived in South Korea on Friday for a three-day visit, ahead of the Opening Ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games celebration. The delegation includes the North Korean ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, who has attended different international games before, and Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s younger sister.
This is the first time a member of the Kim family visits the south since the peninsula was divided in two.
It’s still not known when the meeting could happen, but some analysts suggest a good guess is August 15, the day the Korean peninsula was liberated from the Japanese army in 1945, marked by both Koreas as a national holiday.
Even though the Koreas are making an effort to not overshadow the sports competition, the delegation’s visit stole the media spotlight, especially with all of the focus on Kim Yo-jong.
After the lunch, Kim left a hopeful message in the presidential palace’s guest book. The hand-written message reads “I hope Pyongyang and Seoul get closer in our people’s hearts and bring unification and prosperity in the near future.”
Last night, both Moon and Kim attended the first official Olympic match by the unified Korean women ice hockey team, which they lost 8-0 to the Swiss team.
While the two Koreas are making efforts of reconciliation, the US is pressing the south to distance itself from Pyongyang and join “maximum pressure” foreign policy efforts against the north.
“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. President Moon and I reflected on that last night. And that denuclearization has to be the starting point of any change, not the end point of any change,” US Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters on Friday.
Pence and his wife refused to stand up for the combined Korean team’s entrance at the games’ opening ceremony, in which the team paraded with the blue unified peninsula white flag.