Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reached out to South Korea for a second time in recent days, saying Pyongyang would consider taking part in another inter-Korean summit and declaring an end to the war if Seoul adopts a less hostile policy.
“I felt that the atmosphere of the South Korean public desiring to recover the inter-Korean relations from a deadlock and achieve peaceful stability as soon as possible is irresistibly strong,” Kim Yo-jong said in a statement issued by the official Korean Central News Agency. “We, too, have the same desire.”
Kim’s statement follows one she issued on Friday saying that South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to officially declare an end to the Korean War is an “interesting and good idea” in that it suggests a cessation of hostilities between the two sides. The countries are still technically at war after the 1950-1953 conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
North Korea cut off communications with South Korea and symbolically exploded an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border last year as Seoul continued its support for the US-led sanctions campaign that’s hobbled the North’s economy. Earlier this month, Pyongyang launched two cruise missiles with capabilities of reaching South Korea and Japan, the US Pentagon said.
“Only by maintaining fairness and respect for each other can the two Koreas resolve other relational problems, like declaring the end of war at the proper time, re-establishing North and South liaison office, and arranging inter-Korean summits between the two leaders through constructive discussions,” Kim Yo-jong said, stressing that she was expressing her “personal opinion.”
Moon on Tuesday reiterated his call for formally ending the Korean War in an address to the UN General Assembly. He has less than a year left in office and is attempting to achieve a key policy priority of reconciliation with North Korea.
Washington signaled its interest in the proposal, with Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Wednesday stating that the US is “open to discussing the possibility of an end of war declaration.”
Just last month, Kim Yo-jong sister ramped up the tension on the Korean Peninsula, saying “a dear price should be paid” if South Korea and the US proceed with “self-destructive” joint military drills. North Korea also did not answer an inter-Korean hotline call earlier last month in protest against the military drills.
Seoul and Washington have been holding joint exercises for decades and held some last month as planned, despite Pyongyang’s protests.
South Korea test-launched a missile from a submarine this month, stepping up its strike capabilities and joining seven other countries to demonstrate the technology. The test came after US President Joe Biden and Moon ended a bilateral guideline in May that had long restricted Seoul’s development of missiles to under the range of 800 kilometers.
The move put major Chinese cities under South Korea’s range and increases Seoul’s ability to strike North Korea. Resuming inter-Korean talks could influence Moon — a long-time proponent of reconciliation — to prioritize the high-stakes negotiations rather than military modernization.
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