On Monday, Sept. 29, South Korean president Park Geun-hye issued a statement that called for regular meetings and dialogues with North Korean senior-level officials. The South Korean head of state called for these meetings after the second-in-command of North Korea Hwang Pyong So (second to North Korean president Kim Jong Un) showed up unannounced to the Incheon Asian Games closing ceremony in Incheon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. So arrived with Choe Ryong Hae and Kim Yang Gon, who are secretaries of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, according to reports by Xinhua.
Park stated that North Korea’s second-highest delegation spoke to South Korean high officials after the closing ceremony of the Games. The conversation itself revolved around the performance of both Koreas at the Games, but it held promise as the two sides’ officials agreed to meet again for further discussion of cross-border issues.
It is said that So spoke on these terms in hopes that both Koreas would regard his visitation as a chance to “open the door of peace” via dialogue rather than a cold and unceasing routine of guards up and missiles shot between the two regions.
President Park deemed their mutual agreement to hold a second meeting at the senior level a milestone in the work toward improving inter-Korean relations. Specifically, the talks will possibly discuss humanitarian and socioeconomic issues coupled with the governing system of the two Koreas, as well as discussion of the controversial nuclear weapons program in North Korea.
Dialogues like these began for the two Koreas when Park took office in February 2013. The first vice-ministerial dialogue took place last February in Seoul and Pyongyang.
Yonhap News Agency reports that So and his accompanying North Korean senior-levels appointed the next round of inter-Korean dialogue for late October and early November.
In addition to these planned upcoming talks, North Korean representatives also recently requested the Japanese government to send their own representatives to discuss the North Korean abduction of Japanese citizens that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.