North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Offers ‘Highest-Level Talks’ With South Korea

Jessica Dafoe - Author
By

Jan. 2 2015, Updated 7:41 a.m. ET

On Thursday, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un signaled that he is ready to make necessary steps towards repairing the relationship his nation has with South Korea.

The Wall Street Journal describes the current interaction between the two countries as “frosty,” but notes that Kim Jong-un made “an apparent offer to hold a summit with South Korea’s president” for the purpose of “making concessions to advance” the countries’ hostile relations.

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Kim, who succeeded his father Kim Jong-il as the North Korean leader in 2011, delivered a televised message on Thursday to ring in the New Year free of “threats and bombast.” As the Telegraph indicates, this certainly is an altered manner of addressing South Korea, seeing as “[i]n the past North Korea has promised variously to turn Seoul into a ‘sea of fire’, [and to] destroy its neighbour with ‘merciless strikes.'”

Kim’s 30-minute annual speech was focused mainly on his intentions to improve interaction between the Koreas. The New York Times recounts the North Korean leader’s words which were in fact somewhat conditional, yet an improvement from recent addresses.

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“Depending on the mood and circumstances to be created, we have no reason not to hold the highest-level talks.”

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In addition, Kim promised to “make every effort to advance dialogue and negotiations”, stating that the “tragic” division of the Korean peninsula should be healed.

Although a surprising shift from his usual threatening messages, it certainly is a necessary and welcome attitude for not only South Koreans, but for the rest of the world as well. The threatening tactics of the North Korean Kim dynasty have created an unsettling wave that has been felt on a global scale as of late.

Last month, Kim compared President Barack Obama to a “monkey,” threatened to attack the Pentagon, White House, and the “cesspool of terrorism” synonymous with the “US mainland.” The mood conveyed by Kim Jung-un during his annual address still involved tension, and had a condemning bite as he made note that joint U.S.-South Korean defense drills are at fault for “deepening tensions on the peninsula.”

BBC News Asia makes reference to the longstanding fiery relationship between the rival Koreas.

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“The last formal high-level talks were in February 2014, leading to rare reunions for Korean families separated for over 60 years since the end of 1950-53 Korean War. The two Koreas have technically been at war since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.”

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The South Korean government had a positive reply to Kim’s offer. Ryoo Kihl-Jae, the South Korean unification minister, stated that they have “hopes South and North Korea will hold dialogue without formality in the near future,” and also stated that Seoul interpreted Kim’s address as “meaningful” and as an indication of “advanced attitude towards inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges.”

Perhaps this is the beginning of a peaceable as opposed to “frosty” relationship between the Koreas.

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