Kim Jong Un invites President Moon to N. Korea

The South Korean president has been invited to travel to North Korea, following a formal invitation from the country's leader Kim Jong Un, according to a Blue House spokesman. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.

Posted: Feb 11, 2018 9:50 PM
Updated: Feb 11, 2018 9:50 PM

The South Korean President has been invited to travel to North Korea, following a formal invitation from the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, potentially setting up the first meeting of Korean leaders since 2007.

The invite, presented to South Korean President Moon Jae-in by Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was delivered during a historic meeting between North and South Korean officials at Seoul's presidential palace Saturday, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

Saturday's meeting, the most significant diplomatic encounter between the two sides in more than a decade, could now be surpassed should Moon accept Kim's invitation to visit Pyongyang later this year.

Moon responded to the invitation by suggesting the two countries "should accomplish this by creating the right conditions," adding that talks between North Korea and the United States were also needed, and requested that North Korea be more active in talking with the US, according to Kim Eui-kyeom.

Images from the lunch meeting at the Blue House, which was broadcast live on South Korean TV, showed Moon sat in front of Kim Yo Jong, rather than Kim Yong Nam, technically the more senior official present in the meeting and head of the North Korean delegation.

The younger Kim's trip to the South marks the first time that a member of the North's ruling dynasty has visited since the Korean War, which ended in an armistice in 1953.

Analysts noted that Kim Yo Jong was shown holding a blue folder adorned with a gold seal, which she later placed in front of her on the table, leading to speculation in South Korean media that it could contain a personal letter from her brother to the South Korean President.

Such a high-level meeting would have been unthinkable even a few months ago, but 2018 has seen an accelerated rapprochement between the two adversaries in the run-up to the Games.

Moon has expressed his intention to use the Winter Olympics as a chance to make diplomatic inroads with the North and restore normalized communications, following months of high tensions on the Peninsula.

Speaking last year at his swearing-in ceremony, Moon said he would be willing to travel to Pyongyang "under the right conditions," adding that "for peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything that I can do."

Other members of the North Korean delegation present at Saturday's meeting included Ri Son Gwon, who led the first sit-down talks at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) earlier this year, and Choe Hwi. South Korean participants included senior officials Jeong Eui-yong, Jo Myong-gyoon and Im Jong-suk, the chief presidential secretary.

Dialogue with the US

Saturday's meeting follows a brief encounter between the two parties Friday at the Olympics Opening Ceremony, in which Moon twice shook hands with Kim Yo Jong.

The apparent thaw has not been reflected in Washington, however. US Vice President Mike Pence, sitting a few seats away in the same Opening Ceremony VIP booth, looked stony-faced as the scene unfolded.

Pence, who is leading the US delegation to the Olympics, has accused Pyongyang of using the event for its own ends. "We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games," he said in Japan earlier this week.

Shortly after North Korea invited the South Korean leader, Pence's office issued a statement.

"The Vice President is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions," said Pence's spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah.

Pyongyang has ruled out a meeting with the US delegation during the Winter Games. Jo Yong Sam, department director general of North Korea's foreign ministry, said Thursday the country had never "begged the US for dialogue" and wasn't about to start now.

"We have no intention to meet the US side during our visit to South Korea," Jo said in a terse statement reported by state-run news agency KCNA.

The US has given mixed signals about its willingness to talk. Pence appeared to leave the door open for negotiations earlier this week when he said, "I haven't requested any meeting. But we'll see what happens."

'Calm before the storm'

Diplomatic sources with deep knowledge of North Korea's activities told CNN that despite outwardly positive signs and indications of a "charm offensive" from Pyongyang, what's "unclear and bizarre" is there has not been any concurrent diplomatic movement from North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sources told CNN that sending ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam and Kim's sibling reads as more of a symbolic act than any concrete diplomatic initiative by North Korea.

Since diplomatic efforts are "almost zero," sources said this may signal a "calm before the storm," with North Korea quietly preparing its next moves for after the Olympics.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 665285

Reported Deaths: 12697
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion910581653
Lake48637887
Allen36050641
Hamilton32231398
St. Joseph30243514
Elkhart25484420
Vanderburgh21315382
Tippecanoe20185205
Johnson16425361
Porter16053276
Hendricks15899301
Clark12032182
Madison11779321
Vigo11672231
Monroe10394164
Delaware9879179
LaPorte9821198
Howard9095199
Kosciusko8588111
Bartholomew7504147
Warrick7445153
Hancock7439134
Floyd7255172
Wayne6654192
Grant6453157
Boone611991
Morgan6118126
Dubois5933112
Dearborn550669
Cass5477100
Marshall5446105
Henry542695
Noble510978
Jackson465567
Shelby462591
Lawrence4193113
Gibson404985
Harrison402764
Clinton397053
Montgomery390584
DeKalb387178
Knox357885
Miami357863
Whitley350638
Huntington348377
Steuben339855
Wabash333076
Putnam331960
Ripley327862
Adams325149
Jasper318443
White298052
Jefferson295974
Daviess285696
Fayette272656
Decatur271388
Greene262280
Posey261432
Wells258975
Scott251450
LaGrange242170
Clay241444
Randolph225877
Spencer219330
Jennings216344
Washington213027
Sullivan203639
Fountain202542
Starke189251
Owen183453
Fulton179637
Jay178528
Carroll176919
Perry173836
Orange171351
Rush165422
Vermillion161542
Franklin159735
Tipton149241
Parke140116
Pike128433
Blackford120627
Pulaski107544
Newton96732
Brown95240
Benton92413
Crawford92113
Martin80314
Warren75914
Switzerland7558
Union67510
Ohio54111
Unassigned0434

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 976230

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1127971251
Cuyahoga966701881
Hamilton737981067
Montgomery47453923
Summit40562831
Butler35750531
Lucas35685720
Stark29548826
Warren22539275
Lorain22149424
Mahoning19556551
Lake18509332
Clermont18484205
Delaware16576121
Licking15063194
Fairfield14622188
Trumbull14397424
Greene13636221
Medina13484237
Clark12352256
Wood11633170
Portage11104172
Allen10815216
Richland10360188
Miami10055194
Muskingum8224117
Columbiana8165210
Pickaway8085111
Tuscarawas8065232
Marion8015127
Wayne7915199
Erie6948146
Ross6170132
Geauga6105142
Hancock6021121
Ashtabula5998154
Scioto599188
Lawrence527186
Union515641
Darke5046116
Belmont4990137
Huron4848108
Jefferson4831137
Sandusky4791112
Washington473696
Seneca4720111
Athens465849
Mercer459181
Auglaize456682
Shelby442579
Knox4053105
Putnam400393
Madison394755
Fulton382561
Ashland381983
Brown374352
Defiance373588
Crawford359598
Logan356973
Preble353887
Clinton342055
Highland328451
Ottawa325171
Williams303268
Jackson291246
Champaign290149
Guernsey288745
Perry270748
Fayette269843
Morrow261137
Henry247361
Hardin246859
Holmes244097
Coshocton240056
Van Wert230257
Gallia223538
Adams218139
Pike216728
Wyandot212050
Hocking194954
Carroll181743
Paulding160834
Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117137
Morgan101620
Harrison100731
Vinton76613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 24°
Angola
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 20°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 25°
Fort Wayne
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 24°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 22°
Seasonal Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events