Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reached out to South Korea for the second time in as many days, saying Pyongyang would consider taking part in another inter-Korean summit and declaring an end to the war if Seoul would adopt 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,” she said.
Kim’s statement follows one she issued through KCNA on Friday saying 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 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
North Korea cut off communication links with South Korea and symbolically blew up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border last year as Seoul continued its support for the U.S.-led sanctions campaign that’s hobbled the North’s economy. Earlier this month Pyongyang launched two cruise missiles capable of reaching all of South Korea and Japan, according to the Pentagon.
“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,” said Kim, stressing that she was expressing her “personal opinion.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday reiterated his call for formally ending the Korean War in an address to the United Nations General Assembly. Moon has less than a year left in office and is looking to make good on a key policy priority of reconciliation with North Korea.
Washington signaled its interest in the proposal, with John Kirby, press secretary at the Pentagon, on Wednesday stating that the U.S. is “open to discussing the possibility of an end of war declaration.”
Just last month, Kim Jong Un’s sister ramped up the tension on the Korean peninsula, saying “a dear price should be paid” if South Korea and the U.S. go ahead with “self-destructive” joint military drills. North Korea also didn’t answer an inter-Korean hotline call earlier in August 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 a small list of seven other countries to demonstrate the technology. The test comes after U.S. President Joe Biden and President Moon Jae-in ended a bilateral guideline in May that had long restricted Seoul’s development of missiles to under the range of 800 kilometers (500 miles).
The move put major Chinese cities within South Korea’s range and increases Seoul’s ability to strike North Korea. Resuming inter-Korean talks may influence Moon — a long-time proponent of reconciliation — to prioritize the high-stakes negotiations rather than military modernization.
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