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World to get rare glimpse into NK leadership.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's scheduled meeting with presidential envoys from South Korea will provide a rare glimpse of his personality and leadership, analysts said Monday.

The meeting will serve as the reclusive leader's de facto debut on the diplomatic scene.

Kim assumed his position following the 2011 death of his father, former leader Kim Jong-il, but during the past seven years of his rule, Kim has only met with delegates of states with friendly relations with North Korea, such as China, Cuba and Syria, in Pyongyang. He has not traveled abroad for diplomacy and has not met with any foreign heads of state.

Following Kim Jong-il's death, former first lady Lee Hee-ho, widow of President Kim Dae-jung, and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun visited Pyongyang to offer their condolences, meeting with Kim Jong-un there. But the visit was nothing more than a visit of condolence.

The meeting with the envoys will be his first with officials from the South. A 10-member delegation, including National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong, National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, arrived in Pyongyang, Monday, for a two-day visit.

"We do not know whether Kim will meet with the officials in the form of a luncheon or a surprise meeting," said An Chan-il, chief of the World Institute for North Korea Studies.

"Kim may propose a nuclear moratorium in exchange for resuming tours to Mount Geumgang as well as the operation of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, but it is unlikely the leader will go further than that," he said.

Tours to Mount Geumgang were halted in 2008, after a North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean tourist for wandering into an off-limits zone.

The Gaeseong Industrial Complex has been shut down since Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in 2016.

The envoys' visit to the North comes after Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong delivered a message from her brother to South Korean President Moon Jae-in inviting him for talks in Pyongyang, during her visit to the South for the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics last month.

The government is pushing for Pyongyang-Washington talks to take place on the former's denuclearization, before any reconciliatory dialogue between the Koreas takes place.

The envoys to Pyongyang will leave for Washington on Tuesday to meet with U.S. officials to convey details of their visit to North Korea.

Inter-Korean relations thawed in the New Year, after a series of provocations by Pyongyang last year, including its sixth nuclear test and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

In his New Year speech, the North Korean leader expressed willingness to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics, and the North's participation in the Games was agreed in a high-level inter-Korean meeting that took place after South Korea and the U.S. decided to push back joint military drills until after the sporting event.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Mar 5, 2018
Words:547
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