Kim Jong-un wants to ‘write new history’ with South Korea as diplomatic thaw continues

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s reclusive leader, said he wanted to “vigorously advance” national reunification during his first ever meeting with officials from South Korea, providing a further fillip to an ongoing diplomatic détente.

Talks at Monday’s dinner were centred on a possible summit between the two nation’s leaders, raising hopes of a breakthrough on the hermit kingdom’s nuclear programme.

A report by the official Korean Central News Agency said Mr Kim told the delegation he wanted to "write a new history of reunification" and also discussed how to ease military tensions in the region.

“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, he exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” it said after yesterday’s meeting without detailing what that agreement was.

Mr Moon, the South Korean president, had dispatched Chung Eui-yong, his national security head, and Suh Hoon, his intelligence chief, to lead a 10-member delegation on a two-day trip to the North Korean capital.

Members of the special delegation of South Korea's president with Kim Jong-un Credit:
KCNA via Reuters

Their dinner with Mr Kim marked the first time he had personally met South Korean officials since coming to power in 2011.

Kim Jong-un greets a member of the special delegation of South Korea's presidentCredit:
KCNA via Reuters

The two sides were also expected to discuss how to resume dialogue between the US and North Korea over its nuclear and weapons programme.

Chung Eui-Yong, second right, head of the presidential National Security Office, and Suh Hoon, left, the chief of the South's National Intelligence Service, before boarding a plane to the NorthCredit:
 Getty

However, it was not known until the delegation landed at 2.50pm local time that Kim Jong-un would personally meet them, in what would be his first encounter with South Korean officials since coming to power in 2011.

Mr Kim’s dinner invitation was confirmed by South Korea’s presidential office, who said that it began at 6pm local time. The envoys were carrying a letter from Mr Moon to hand to their host.

Photos provided by the president’s office, also known by the Blue House, showed the delegation walking resolutely in dark suits across the tarmac after landing in Pyongyang after the short flight from Seoul.

“Moon clearly wants to go,” said Robert Kelly, professor of political science at South Korea’s Busan University. “The real trick is making sure the North Koreans don’t turn a summit into an anti-American prestige-seeking one. It’s got to deal with the nuclear weapons one way or another.”

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