BREAKING NEWS Newest vaccine has arrived in Minnesota: 'Everyone who has the opportunity to get this shot should take it' Full Story

South Korean leader welcomes North Korean Olympic participation

South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed Kim Jong Un's apparent willingness to enter into dialogue and called for ...

Posted: Jan 2, 2018 8:25 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2018 8:25 PM

South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed Kim Jong Un's apparent willingness to enter into dialogue and called for swift measures to help North Korea participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday in Seoul.

The North Korean leader struck an unusually conciliatory note in his annual New Year's Day address, declaring his hope "for (a) peaceful resolution with our southern border."

In the televised speech Monday, Kim called for peace on the Korean Peninsula and said North Korean representatives should start talks with their South Korean counterparts "as soon as possible" about sending a delegation to the 2018 Winter Games next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Moon, who has long advocated for closer relations with the North, described Kim's remarks "as a response to our proposal to turn the Pyeongchang Olympic Games into an epoch-making opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations and establish peace."

Moon said he would ask the Unification Ministry -- the government department responsible for inter-Korean relations -- and the Ministry of Culture and Sports "to quickly come up with follow-up measures for the speedy restoration of South-North Korean dialogue and realize the North Korean delegation's participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics."

President Donald Trump said sanctions have started having "a big impact" on North Korea and its leader, whom he calls "Rocket man."

"Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!"

Kim's comments appear to have galvanized efforts within Moon's administration to secure North Korea's participation in the Games.

On Tuesday, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon suggested high-level government talks with North Korea could be held as soon as January 9 in the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.

"The government proposes the North to hold high-level, inter-Korean government talks at the Peace House of Panmunjom in consideration that the Winter Olympics is about a month away and to discuss related matters such as the participation of North Korea's delegation in the Pyeongchang Olympics," Cho said during a press briefing in Seoul.

Cho added his government would remain "open to suggestions" as to the "timing, venue and format" of any future dialogue with the North.

North Korea has yet to respond to the South's offer. Indeed, it's long been difficult to reach North Korea for direct communication, the South's Unification Ministry says.

North Korean officials haven't answered the South's calls on a hotline at Panmunjom since February 2016 when the South suspended operations at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex, a business park where South Korean companies employed North Korean workers just north of the border separating the countries, a ministry spokeswoman said.

Since then, the ministry has called the North on the hotline twice a day, Monday through Friday, but the North has not answered, the spokeswoman said. That includes two unanswered calls on Tuesday, a day after Kim's message, she said.

Nevertheless, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the efforts from both the North and South to improve relations.

Moon has championed the 2018 Winter Olympics, set to begin February 9, as a possible means of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In a November interview with CNN, the South Korean leader described the Games as an opportunity for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation, and expressed his hope that the North would participate.

The Games are due to take place 30 years after Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics, a turbulent era in which a number of nations -- including North Korea -- boycotted the event.

To date, only two North Korean athletes have qualified for the Games -- pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-sik. However, the country's National Olympic Committee did not meet an October 30 deadline to accept their spot.

There has been talk of the International Olympic Committee granting an additional quota, something previously proposed by Choi Moon-soon, governor of the Gangwon province that will host the Winter Games.

Follow-up measures

Kim's sudden willingness to reach out to the South has surprised analysts, leading to suggestions it may be part of a strategy to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

Rodger Baker, vice president of strategic analysis for the intelligence firm Stratfor, told CNN that Kim may be seeking to "exploit Seoul's sense of insecurity" by enlisting it in pushing back against tighter US containment.

"By suggesting North Korea will send a delegation to the Olympics, the North may also add impetus to the South's offer to delay joint defense exercises with the US, and may add to some of the differences between Seoul and Washington in coordinated North Korea policies," said Baker, referring to Moon's comments to NBC in November hinting at the possibility of delaying joint military exercises with the US until after the Olympics.

Since coming to office in May, Moon has appeared willing to seek a diplomatic solution to the Korean crisis that has seemed at odds with that of the US, and in particular, that of Trump. In September, Trump accused Moon of seeking "appeasement" with North Korea following the successful completion of Pyongyang's sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

Moon's stance has been compared to the so-called Sunshine Policy of the liberal governments of 1998 to 2008. Under it, Seoul actively engaged Pyongyang, which led to closer relations and saw two South Korean leaders visit the North Korean capital. However, the approach failed to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Speaking Monday, Moon said improvements in inter-Korean relations was "not a matter that can go a separate way from the issue of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue."

"I also ask the Foreign Ministry to closely consult with our allies and the international community to push for both an improvement in inter-Korean relationship and the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue at the same time," he said.

Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, told CNN that North Korea does "not want to appear threatening and provocative."

"He (Kim) wants to convince the international community that his nuclear weapons are purely for self-defense and wants to have a negotiated solution with the United States on the basis that he gets to keep its nuclear deterrent capability," he said.

"After achieving a preliminary strategic deterrent capability, North Korea might want to de-escalate tensions and see(s) the Winter Olympics as a golden opportunity. The Games make it possible for Washington and Seoul to meet Pyongyang's demand for self-restraint -- adjusting their military exercises -- without losing face and appearing weak on Pyongyang."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 485655

Reported Deaths: 6558
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1007641586
Ramsey43106801
Dakota36297390
Anoka33293385
Washington22078256
Stearns18734201
St. Louis14805262
Scott13290107
Wright12526115
Olmsted1178988
Sherburne872872
Carver772640
Clay691587
Rice670491
Blue Earth594735
Kandiyohi579574
Crow Wing520681
Chisago499045
Otter Tail482170
Benton446490
Winona418349
Mower404731
Douglas392668
Nobles387047
Goodhue385768
Polk343162
McLeod339349
Beltrami337951
Morrison324547
Itasca313046
Lyon313044
Becker311342
Isanti306154
Steele300411
Carlton300149
Pine282016
Freeborn280723
Nicollet258641
Todd248030
Brown245037
Le Sueur235320
Mille Lacs227447
Cass220024
Waseca208717
Meeker207434
Martin189528
Wabasha18653
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15224
Renville149640
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134416
Wadena130920
Faribault123017
Aitkin118833
Sibley117310
Watonwan11738
Rock115714
Kanabec107519
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9448
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8045
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake74018
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68416
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned46768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362827

Reported Deaths: 5440
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58260551
Linn20670313
Scott18318210
Black Hawk16258292
Woodbury14979211
Johnson1384874
Dubuque13562194
Dallas1138690
Pottawattamie10791143
Story1024945
Warren556674
Clinton543784
Cerro Gordo533782
Webster519587
Marshall497272
Sioux494869
Buena Vista474537
Des Moines458861
Muscatine452291
Wapello4345108
Jasper417766
Plymouth395378
Lee375452
Marion359169
Jones294154
Henry293337
Carroll286249
Bremer280854
Crawford275135
Boone259730
Washington254347
Benton253854
Mahaska224746
Jackson221638
Dickinson217840
Tama213765
Kossuth208555
Clay193625
Hamilton192142
Delaware189140
Winneshiek189127
Buchanan185729
Fayette185235
Page183319
Hardin181439
Wright179931
Harrison179469
Cedar178523
Clayton168154
Butler167231
Mills163020
Floyd162741
Cherokee154836
Madison154718
Poweshiek154330
Hancock147130
Allamakee146747
Lyon145941
Iowa145023
Appanoose139247
Grundy139230
Jefferson138734
Winnebago138631
Cass134751
Calhoun133811
Mitchell130940
Louisa128241
Union126631
Chickasaw125215
Sac124618
Emmet121740
Shelby121733
Franklin118319
Humboldt117925
Guthrie116628
Palo Alto105221
Montgomery104136
Howard102921
Clarke100420
Unassigned9900
Keokuk98229
Monroe93328
Adair92128
Ida91432
Pocahontas85419
Davis83123
Monona81627
Greene77510
Lucas74021
Osceola70615
Worth6997
Taylor66612
Fremont5909
Decatur5829
Van Buren56118
Ringgold52320
Wayne48921
Audubon4889
Adams3274
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 48°
Mason City
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 52°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 42°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 45°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 48°
Several days of mild weather expected
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events