NATIONAL

Two Koreas made 285 rounds of contact at joint liaison office so far: ministry

By Jung Min-kyung
  • Published : Dec 20, 2018 - 15:28
  • Updated : Dec 20, 2018 - 15:28

The two Koreas have made 285 rounds of contact, including 46 meetings, at the joint liaison office in North Korea’s border town of Kaesong so far, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said Thursday.

The liaison office opened in September.

The contact includes five meetings among government officials from both sides, five working-level talks, and 36 meetings between chiefs and deputy chiefs of the office. On top of this, 173 messages or documents were exchanged at the office. 

Koreas open their joint liaison office in North Korea`s border town of Kaesong in September. (Yonhap)

“Contact and cooperation at the office were made on various levels, regardless of ranks and specific personnel,” the ministry said.

South Korea has dispatched around 30 people to the office, including Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, who was tapped as co-chief of the liaison office. His North Korean counterpart is Jon Jong-su, who leads around 20 people.

South Korean officials commute to the office in Kaesong from Seoul when necessary, and North Korean officials are believed to have been doing the same.

Officials from both the South and the North have been discussing issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula as well, according to Kim Chang-soo, South Korea’s deputy chief of the joint liaison office.

“We highlighted the importance of public diplomacy toward the US (to the North Korean officials at the office) and asked them to come with us to the US in this sense, and they unexpectedly replied, ‘Let’s go together,’” Kim told a group of reporters earlier in the day.

“There remains a possibility of North Korea’s visit to the US,” he added.

Kim also shared some details of his private encounters with an unnamed North Korean official, who apparently shared his thoughts on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul. Kim Jong-un promised to visit Seoul “soon” during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September in Pyongyang, but the trip has yet to materialize.

“In mid-November, an official who came down to the office from Pyongyang told me privately that the last part of the Pyongyang joint declaration was still valid, elaborating that he meant Kim’s Seoul visit by the end of the year,” he said.

“But when I cautiously raised the issue in a more official environment, he refused to discuss the matter.”

South Korea has recently toned down its hopes for Kim’s visit to Seoul by the end of the year, but refused to deny the possibility. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told reporters Wednesday that there is still a chance that Kim may visit South Korea by the end of the month.

(mkjung@heraldcorp.com)