The Two Koreas Agree To Hold High-Level Talks This Autumn

October 4, 2014

In a sign of potential improvement in their frosty relationship, North and South Korea will engage in high-level talks by early November. The revelation came as a delegation of North Korean officials ventured south to Incheon for Saturday’s closing ceremonies in the 2014 Asian Games.

That trip brought a chance for South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Hong-won to meet with the military and political leaders, in what the Yohhap News Agency says is “the first time that a sitting South Korean prime minister has met with high-ranking North Korean officials since their prime ministerial talks in 2007,” when Kim Jong-Il was still in office.

The news emerges as a survey found more than half of South Koreans support reunification with the north. The Chosun Ilbo reports that in the survey of 1,200 South Koreans, only 14 percent said they view North Korea as an enemy. But nearly 90 percent also said the country would never give up its nuclear weapons, and three-quarters of respondents said North Korea might “launch an armed provocation.”

Before today’s meeting, the health of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, had been a subject of rampant speculation, after a video showed him limping.

“North Korea’s state media confirmed that he suffered from discomfort. I think there is no reason to disbelieve it,” South Korea’s Ministry of Unification spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol tells The Korea Times. The agency goes on to report that Kim has edema in at least one ankle joint, requiring surgery.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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