North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un met with a special delegation representing South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, continuing ongoing talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
“The special delegation met with Chairman Kim Jong-un to deliver the personal letter (from Moon) and exchange their opinions,” a spokesperson for Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said in a statement. “The special delegation was greeted by Ri Son-kwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, and other committee officials after arriving at Pyongyang International Airport.”
Members of the delegation include head of the presidential National Security Office Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Intelligence Service Suh Hoon, and the Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung. The trip is understood to involve preparations for a meeting in Pyongyang between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in this month, although no details of the trip will be revealed until Thursday.
“First, the delegation will seek to set a specific date for the South-North summit that the countries have already agreed to hold in Pyongyang in September,” Chung told a press briefing Tuesday. “Second, it will discuss ways to develop South-North Korean relations by implementing the Panmunjom Declaration.”
South Korea remains eager to organize another summit with Kim Jong-un, as Moon Jae-in seeks to solidify relations with the communist regime in an attempt to ensure the end of their illegal nuclear weapons program and a better quality of life for North Korean citizens.
“As I said the other day, the need for a South-North Korean summit has rather become greater because of the standoff between the United States and North Korea,” a spokesperson for Moon said last month. “We expect the South-North summit to play a role in paving the way and further expanding the path.”
The United States reportedly supports this approach. The Trump administration is seeking to achieve a comprehensive agreement that will see North Korea get rid of their nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Many have criticized the approach as a form of appeasement against a regime with arguably the world’s worst human rights record.
A study released last month found that human rights violations and infringements on the right to life have worsened since North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seized power in 2012, documenting thousands of cases of torture, wrongful imprisonment, forced abortions, starvation, and rape against religious minorities and those determined to be disloyal to the regime.
On Tuesday, reports indicated that Chinese President Xi Jinping would not attend North Korea’s major national celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Kim dynasty. Li Zhanshu, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and the head of China’s Congress, will lead a delegation to Pyongyang in his place. China remains North Korea’s strongest ally, providing vital economic and political support that has allowed the regime to survive.