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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
A recent visit by Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong to South Korea showed Pyongyang is capable of taking “unprecedented and drastic measures” towards peace on the peninsula, South Korea’s unification ministry said on Monday.
The Ministry of Unification (MOU) praised the visit by Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam – the first visit by a DPRK nominal head of state or member of the ruling Kim family – saying it demonstrated Pyongyang’s goodwill.
“This demonstrates that North Korea’s willingness to improve the South-North relations is very strong,” Baik Tae-hyun, an MOU spokesperson, said during a regular news briefing.
“It also shows that [Pyongyang] can take unprecedented and drastic measures when necessary.”
In a report on the high-level delegation’s visit distributed to press on Sunday, the unification ministry said that the North may take further steps to improve relations between the two Koreas.
When asked whether Seoul saw any of these “drastic measures” involving the issue of denuclearizing the peninsula, Baik on Monday said there was “consensus” between the two Koreas on the need for a “settlement.”
“Our government is to make multilateral efforts into creating a virtuous circle between the development of inter-Korean relations and the progress in the North Korean nuclear issue,” Baik said.
The unification ministry on Sunday said Seoul would “promote dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang through progress in inter-Korean relations depending on the situation.”
“If there is certain progress to set the conditions for denuclearization, full-fledged progress in inter-Korean relations will become possible,” the MOU said.
The unification ministry also said the two Koreas have established a “starting point” for an inter-Korean summit to take place.
Kim Yo Jong, the vice director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), on Sunday delivered an invitation to Pyongyang from DPRK leader Kim Jong Un to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Seoul is yet to give a firm answer on whether the President will accept the invitation.
“We will take follow-up measures and others related to the issue in close consultation with related ministries while considering the trend in the future,” the MOU said on Monday.
The high-level delegation – which also included Chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee Choe Hwi and chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) Ri Son Gwon – wrapped up a three-day visit to the South on Sunday.
North Korean daily newspaper the Rodong Sinmun on Monday also published its assessment of the visit.
“… The visit of the high-level delegation is the meaningful opportunity to improve the North-South relations and create the peaceful environment on the Korean peninsula,” the Rodong said.
Carrying an article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) the previous day – though further details were added for print – the Rodong reported that the delegation’s visit “aroused interest from inside and outside” of the country.
Coverage of a performance by the Samjiyon Orchestra in Seoul on Sunday was also noticeably more detailed when published in the Rodong.
“The venue of the performance was successfully packed with a large audience coming from all over the country to watch the performance of artists which caused a great sensation in various circles of south Korea,” the article read, in a section omitted in KCNA.
The 140-member Samjiyon Orchestra held a concert at the National Theater of Korea’s Haeoreum Grand Theater on Sunday following a performance at the Gangneung Art Center last Thursday.
The troupe has now returned to the North.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean presidential office