Leaders from North, South Korea hold highest-level talks since 2009
High-ranking officials from the North and South Korean governments held their most significant talks in nearly five years on Saturday, stirring hope for improved relations after months of tension and missile launches, according to reports in the Associated Press and Seoul media.
Hwang Pyong So, vice chairman of North Korea’s Defense Commission, who is considered to be the country’s second-in-command behind Kim Jong Un, and two other top officials met with South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae shortly before the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Asian Games, according to The Korea Times.
It was not immediately clear what was discussed, but the officials agreed to hold another round of talks by November, according to an Associated Press report.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye was also willing to meet with the Pyongyang delegation, but its members needed to attend the closing ceremonies of the games.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency’s website made no mention of the meeting. The page has not been updated since Oct. 2, when a statement attacking the South Korean government was prominently featured.
The talks come at a tumultuous time in the divided peninsula, one that has been marked by a slew of insults on both sides and a high number of North Korean missile launches.
North Korea has staged more than 100 launches this year and its state media agency referred to Park as a prostitute at one point.
Kim has also been said to be in poor health lately, and has not made any public appearances since early September.
North Korean officials have scarcely visited South Korea since 2008, when former President Lee Myung-bak took a rigid stance toward their nation.
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.