Backgrounder: High-level talks between South Korea, DPRK

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- South Koreaand the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday kicked off a senior-level, inter-governmental dialogue on inter-Korean relations at the truce village of Panmunjom.

The two sides started the plenary session at around 10:00 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) at the Peace House, a building in the South Korean side of Panmunjom straddling the heavily guarded inter-Korean land border.

The five-member South Korean delegation was headed by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, while the five DPRK delegates were led by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

Ministerial-level talks between the two Koreas had been held frequently since late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met in Pyongyang in June 2000 with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of current leader Kim Jong Un.

About one and a half months after the first inter-Korean summit meeting, the first round of ministerial-level meeting between the two Koreas was held in Seoul.

A total of 21 rounds of inter-Korean ministerial talks were held from 2000 to 2007, in South Korea and the DPRK by turns, under liberal presidents of South Korea.

The 20th and the 21st rounds of ministerial talks were held in 2007 in Pyongyang and in Seoul respectively, leading to the second inter-Korean summit meeting that was held in Pyongyang in October 2007 between late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and then top DPRK leader Kim Jong Il.

Since then, inter-Korean relations had been strained as conservative South Korean governments were launched and took a hardline stance toward the DPRK.

In his New Year's Day address in 2014, top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un called on South Korea to create atmosphere for improved inter-Korean relations.

Park Geun-hye, then South Korean conservative president, described in her first New Year's press conference in early January the future reunification with the DPRK as "bonanza."

In February 2014, a high-level inter-Korean contact was held, and the two Koreas agreed on the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

In August 2015, the two Koreas held a marathon senior-level contact in Panmunjom, agreeing on the reunion of separated families, the intergovernmental meeting and civilian exchange between peoples of the two Koreas.

In December 2015, the vice ministerial-level intergovernmental meeting was held between the two Koreas, but the meeting ended without any result.

Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year message in 2018 that Pyongyang was willing to participate in the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics scheduled for February and talk with Seoul about it.

Kim's speech led to the agreement between the two Koreas to hold the senior-level intergovernmental talks on Jan. 9 in Panmunjom.

[ Editor: meng ]


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