NORTH Korea and Government officials from the South started fresh talks over the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the de-escalation of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons today following discussions last week.
Kim Jong-un had previously blasted the South for praising Donald Trump this weekend, leaving a back cloud lingering over talks.
In the behind closed doors talks, South Korea are likely to have demanded answers from the hermit state which has avoided concrete answers to direct diplomatic requests.
It is unclear what was achieved during today’s discussion, however, North Korea are said to have requested further talks later this week in order to discuss details regarding their participation at the Olympics.
Seoul are yet to accept the request.
The latest talks come just weeks ahead of the games which will see the world’s best winter sport athletes descending on the region.
It was agreed last week Pyongyang would be allowed to send a delegation to the international games in the first meeting between the nations in more than two years.
Meeting in the demilitarised zone, the neighbouring countries were expected to discuss conditions surrounding participation in the event, including the future of the North’s nuclear weapons programme.
Four arts officials were in attendance from the North, led by Kwon Hyok-bong, former head of the North’s Unhasu Orchestra, who is now director of the performing arts bureau at the culture ministry.
From the South, Lee Woo-sung, head of the culture and arts policy office at the culture ministry will lead talks, with Korean Symphony Orchestra’s CEO Lee Won-choul, its artistic director, Chong Chi-yong, and Han Jong-wook, head of an inter-Korean dialogue division under the unification ministry’s Office of Inter-Korean Dialogue, were negotiating.
It is expected that at the Olympics next month there will be a joint women’s hockey team but it is unlikely the countries will participate together in other events.
One of the teams Kim Jong-un wants to send south of the border for the games, which take place between February 9 and 15, is a dance troupe.
The Korean countries are said to also have discussed inter-Korean family reunions as part of their talks.
In the past when relations have been less tense, inter-Korean family separated by the border have been able to meet up with their loved ones.
However, the hermit state are said to have demanded the return of 12 North Korean restaurant workers who defected to the South in 2016 if the special reunion event is to take place.
At the start of the meeting, Kwon Hyok-bong, the North’s chief delegate, said: “We believe that a great symphony will be enthusiastically received.
“In that sense, we hope that the talks could go smoothly so as to help our art troupe perform well in the South.”
It is not known what was meant by “great symphony”.