SEOUL – South Korea proposed on Tuesday to hold high level talks with North Korea next week about the North’s participation in the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
South Korea’s unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, proposed that the two Koreas meet on Tuesday, Jan. 9, in the truce village of Panmunjom, located in the demilitarized zone, the usual venue for such meetings until they were stopped in February 2016.
The proposal comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said on Monday that he was open to dialogue with South Korea over sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea between Feb. 9-25.
“We hope that South and North Korea will sit down to discuss the North’s participation in the games and ways to improve inter-Korean ties in a frank manner,” Cho said in a statement published by local news agency Yonhap.
If Pyongyang accepts the proposal, it would be the first such meeting between the two countries in more than two years, after Pyongyang cut off communications in February 2016 to protest Seoul’s decision to shut down the Kaesong inter-Korean industrial complex.
The unification minister hoped that the proposed meeting would lead to an immediate restoration of bilateral communication channels.
The figure skating pair of Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik are the only North Korean athletes qualified to participate in the PyeongChang games, which will take place around 70 kilometers south of the border.