By Yujiro Okabe / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentSEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a dinner to welcome a South Korean special delegation in Pyongyang on Monday, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju and his sister Kim Yo Jong, the person he trusts the most.
Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, rarely meets with foreign dignities. By hosting talks and the dinner, which lasted for a total of four hours and 12 minutes, he clearly signaled his intention to cajole the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae In, which has shown a desire for inter-Korean reconciliation.
According to the South Korean presidential Blue House, the talks and banquet with Moon’s special envoys were held at the headquarters of the Workers’ Party in Pyongyang. This is the first time that South Korean government officials have visited the main base of the North’s top leadership.
The past two inter-Korean summit meetings in 2000 and 2007 were held at the Baekhwawon State Guest House. Given that, North Korea’s treatment of the South’s envoys this time is unprecedented.
Monday’s meeting was also attended by Kim Jong Un’s sister, who was sent as a special envoy for the Feb. 9 opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics, and Kim Yong Chol, a close aide of the North’s leader and the ruling party’s vice chairman. Kim Yong Chol attended the Feb. 25 closing ceremony at the Games.
After that, Ri Sol Ju and others joined the group for the dinner. It is rare for Kim Yo Jong and Ri Sol Ju to appear at diplomatic functions. According to Radiopress Inc., this is the first confirmed case in which the two women were together to meet with foreign dignitaries.
The North Korean media on Tuesday extensively reported the special delegation’s visit to the country.
The Rodong Sinmum, the official newspaper of the ruling party, carried 10 photographs of the talks and dinner on its front and second pages. The Korean Central News Agency emphasized the mood of inter-Korean friendship by reporting that the North Korean leader “shook hands with each of the special envoys and gave them a fervent welcome.”Speech