First North-South Korea Meeting a Success

January 10, 2018

North and South Korea held their first diplomatic meeting in more than two years, earlier today, and by all accounts, it was a spectacular success. North Korea offered to send a large delegation of athletes, officials and others to the upcoming Winter Olympics, South Korea proposed reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, and North Korea re-opened the military-to-military hotline that had been closed since 2016.

"I came to this meeting with a thought to hand a 'precious result' to our fellow, who holds a great expectation," Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country and leader of the North Korean delegation, said at the start of the meeting, reports the Korea Herald. Ri also said the rare meeting was arranged upon "the divine will," on the back of "the hearts of the Korean people" combined with the "current situation." For his part, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said that South Korean citizens want to reel Inter-Korean relations toward reconciliation and peace. Cho also underlined Seoul's wish for North Korea's participation at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics next month.

With respect to the Olympics, South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters afterwards that South Korea proposed the two sides march together during the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics and form a joint cheering team.

On other matters, the South further offered to hold a Red Cross meeting to discuss the reunion of families separated by the Korean War and proposed holding military talks to prevent accidental conflict along the border. "We also raised the need to end acts that could escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to resume dialogue to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, such as (North Korea's) denuclearization," Chun said. "North Korea proposed resolving issues regarding inter-Korean ties through dialogue and negotiations for peace and unity on the peninsula," Chun said. "North Korea has guaranteed peace on the Korean Peninsula, talked about promoting reconciliation among the Korean people, and solving issues surrounding the South and the North through dialogue and negotiations," Chun said. The North apparently didn't respond directly on denuclearization but seemed attentive toward South Korea's remarks, said Chun.

Seoul has also proposed talks between representatives of the two countries' armed forces. According to a spokesman for the Unification Ministry, during the talks in Panmunjom, South Korea suggested arranging talks between representatives of the two countries' military command in the near future. This step should help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he said without providing any details about response from Pyongyang.