Kim Jong Un has provided “important instructions” and called for “practical measures” for the improvement of inter-Korean relations, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
At a meeting on Monday with members of a high-level North Korean delegation recently returned from the South, the DPRK leader said the country should continue to promote the “warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue” caused by the Winter Olympics.
“He set forth in detail the orientation of the improvement of the north-south relations and gave important instructions… to take practical measures for it,” Kim said in an English-language report by the KCNA.
President of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Kim Yong Nam led the high-level delegation last week, which included first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Yo Jong.
They were accompanied by 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.
Tuesday’s report, however, didn’t clarify what these decisions or instructions would involve, but reported Kim Jong Un had “expressed satisfaction” after being briefed on the visit by Kim Yo Jong, his sister, and Kim Yong Nam.
Kim Yong Nam reportedly briefed the leader on the delegation’s activities in the South, including a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday, at which Kim Yo Jong invited Moon to Pyongyang on behalf of her brother.
KCNA reported that Kim Yo Jong had also given a “detailed report” on her contacts with high-ranking ROK officials including Moon Jae-in, describing her as having worked “at the special instruction of Kim Jong Un.”
She also reported on South Korea’s intentions and “the movement of the U.S. side and others.”
One South Korean expert said the phrase “practical measures” should be understood “in a broad sense.”
“I believe the main contents of the ‘important instructions’ are the implementation of June 15 and October 4 joint declaration and thorough preparation for the inter-Korean summit,” Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies (UNKS), told NK News.
Another said the two Koreas may see renewed inter-Korean cultural exchanges.
“It means the country’s supreme commander officially pronounced to [resume] exchanges in all field including cultural and art exchanges such as soccer and ballet,” Nam Sung-wook, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, said.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Sunday said he had held conversations with North Korea’s Choe and Ri on ways to boost exchanges – including the potential revival of the Kyungsung–Pyongyang soccer rivalry.
Kim Yong Nam on Sunday also reportedly asked South Korean ballerina Kang Sue-jin – who leads Korean National Ballet – to hold a performance in Pyongyang.
During the three-day trip, in addition to her visit to the Blue House, Kim Yo Jong participated in three events with Moon: the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday, a Women’s Ice Hockey game between Switzerland and the two Koreas on Saturday, and a performance by the Samjiyon Orchestra in Seoul on Sunday.
Kim Yong Nam also attended a pre-Opening Ceremony Reception on Friday, at which he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Moon, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and others.
The North Korean leader also held a meeting with members of the recently returned Samjiyon Orchestra, the KCNA reported.
“He was also pleased that the fellow countrymen in the south including President Moon Jae In and his wife expressed satisfaction over the performances while warmly responding and cheering them,” KCNA reported.
The 140-member Samjiyon Orchestra performed two shows in South Korea last week: one on Thursday at the Gangneung Art Center and the other on Sunday at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul.
In a Korean dispatch, KCNA said Kim Jong Un had “provided detailed guidance” and visited the rehearsal venue “several times” ahead of the orchestra’s visit to the South.
The art troupe arrived at the South’s Mukho port last Wednesday on the Mangyongbong-92 ferry, before returning to the North on Monday via the overland Gyeongui Line route.
The return of the Samjiyon Orchestra and the high-level delegation leaves 336 North Koreans still in the South: among them are athletes competing in the Olympics and a cheerleading squad.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)
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