The two Koreas will finally sit down and meet on Jan. 9, South Korea’s unification minister announced today (Jan. 5).
The ministry said this morning that it received a letter sent from Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country of the DPRK, stating North Korea would enter into talks with Seoul. (The DRPK, or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is North Korea’s official name.)
South Korean president Moon Jae-in invited North Korea to have talks earlier this week.
The talks would be the first dialog between the two sides since December 2015. North and South Korea talked on the phone this week for the first time in two years, after North Korea agreed to restart a special hotline located in the Demilitarized Zone, though not much was discussed.
Key among the topics on Jan. 9 will be North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics, to be held in Pyeongchang in South Korea next month. Kim Jong-un said on New Year’s Day that he would be willing to send a delegation to the games. In the US, the White House said it hoped the talks would be limited to the Olympics and that Seoul won’t “go off freelancing” on other issues.
According to the ministry, both sides agreed that working-level issues regarding the talks would be communicated through faxed documents. The talks will be held at the Peace House, a building controlled by South Korea in the truce village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border.
The announcement came after the US and South Korea agreed to suspend joint military drills during the Winter Olympics, at the request of Moon in a call with Donald Trump. The annual drills have long been seen by Pyongyang as a provocation.
Trump took credit for the latest diplomatic breakthrough between the two Koreas.