A November 26 meeting between North and South Korean officials at Panmunjom has produced an agreement for a vice-minister-level conference in early December.
“Officials agreed to vice-minister-level talks on Dec. 11 at the industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong just a few kilometers on the northern side of the border run jointly by the two Koreas,” a joint press statement said.
The agreement to open dialogue comes amidst several incidents dating to 2010 when the two nations essentially severed ties over the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, the ROKS Cheonan, allegedly foundered by a torpedo Seoul claims was fired from a North Korean submarine.
Pyongyang denies any role in the affair.
Immediately following the Cheonan incident, relations further deteriorated when North Korea bombarded Yeonpyeong Island in the hotly-contested area of the Yellow Sea.
Shortly after, in 2011, a freelance journalist revealed North Korea abducted several South Korean military personnel; in 2013, tensions rose over the United Nation’s condemnation of a North Korean satellite launch; and in 2015, North Korea planted several landmines near the demilitarized zone, injuring several South Korean servicemen.
Of primary concern is a reduction in tension between the two nations; however, Seoul is hoping conversations will produce a resumption in cross-border visits between relatives separated since the conclusion of the 1950-1953 war.
Talks are slated to being on December 11.
[Reuters] [Photo courtesy BBC]