Olympics in Mind, S. Korea Eyes Rare Talks With North

Dialogue would bring opportunity to 'establish peace,' says President Moon
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2018 5:33 AM CST
Olympics in Mind, S. Korea Eyes Rare Talks With North
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a cabinet meeting in Seoul on Tuesday.   (Kim Ju-hyoung/Yonhap via AP)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants a North Korea delegation at the PyeongChang Olympics in February, arguing that it's "an epoch-making opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations and establish peace." Responding to a speech from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who appeared in favor of such an arrangement, Moon said Tuesday that he would ask the government "to quickly come up with follow-up measures for the speedy restoration of South-North Korean dialogue and realize the North Korean delegation's participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics," reports CNN. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon suggested "high level inter-Korean government talks" could be held in the border village of Panmunjom as soon as Jan. 9 "to discuss related matters such as the participation of North Korea's delegation in the PyeongChang Olympics."

While China approves of what would be the first formal dialogue between North and South Korea since December 2015, per the AP, some analysts say Kim's sudden conciliatory tone, with no promise of compromise, is aimed at distancing Seoul and Washington, reports Reuters. The US government, which has been tough on North Korea regarding its nuclear weapons program, has not responded. However, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Monday that the US might boycott the Olympics if North Korea's two qualified figure skaters were allowed to take part beginning Feb. 9. "Allowing Kim Jong Un's North Korea to participate in Winter Olympics would give legitimacy to the most illegitimate regime on the planet," he said. "I'm confident South Korea will reject this absurd overture and fully believe that if North Korea goes to the Winter Olympics, we do not." (More North Korea stories.)

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