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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on March 7)

All Headlines 07:00 March 07, 2018

Moon-Kim summit
North Korean leader's warm welcome is a good sign

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's reception of President Moon Jae-in's special envoys was a huge surprise for several reasons.

First, Kim wasted no time in getting together with National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong, the leader of the five-member delegation to North Korea carrying Moon's personal letter. The North Korean leader met with the special envoys only three hours after their arrival in Pyongyang.

Second, Kim hosted them for a meeting and dinner at the headquarters of his country's ruling Workers' Party. It is the first time South Korean officials have been admitted to the building which houses Kim's official quarters. The rare admittance of the officials to North Korea's ruling party headquarters is seen as a way of reciprocating Moon's warm reception of Kim Yo-jong last month.

Third, the North Korean leader spent more than four hours with the envoys alongside his sister Yo-jong, who led a high-level delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games last month. Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju was also present during the dinner.

North Korea's ruling party mouthpiece, the Rodong Sinmun, reported on the activities of the South Korean delegation on its front page, Tuesday. Photos released by Cheong Wa Dae showed a friendly atmosphere during the meeting and the dinner. The North Korean state media underlined both sides had reached a "satisfactory agreement."

During the meeting, Kim reportedly lauded the PyeongChang Olympics as "an extremely important opportunity to spread the spirit and status of the two Koreas and create a very good environment for inter-Korean reconciliation, cooperation and dialogue." He reiterated his resolve to "write new history in pushing for reunification." Kim also reportedly discussed ways to defuse military tension on the Korean Peninsula and pursue multifaceted dialogue.

It is unsure whether the subject of denuclearization came up during the meeting and what kind of response Kim gave to the demands from the U.S. to abandon his weapons programs. The U.S. has called on Pyongyang to take steps toward a "complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament" before resuming diplomacy with North Korea.

One of the most visible outcomes of the visit is the two sides coming to some agreement on a summit. Moon and Kim share a common wish to put the Korean Peninsula on the path toward peace and mutual cooperation. To carry on the post-Olympic momentum of peace initiated by President Moon, we urge Kim to fully do his part by starting to respond to the calls for denuclearization.

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