North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un praised South Korea as very impressive, state media reported Tuesday, after his sister and other top regime officials returned from their landmark visit to the Winter Olympics.
The state-run KCNA news agency published a short report on Kim meeting the delegation on Monday following its return to Pyongyang.
“After receiving the delegation’s report, Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction over it and said that very impressive were the features of the south side which specially prioritised the visit of the members of the DPRK side who took part in the Winter Olympics,” KCNA said, adding the North Korean leader “expressed thanks” to Seoul.
South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics has sparked a sudden and rare moment of rapprochement across the Demilitarized Zone after months of sky-high tensions over Pyongyang’s rapidly advancing nuclear weapons programme and bellicose missile tests.
After months of rebuffing invitations from South Korea to attend the Olympics, Kim did an about-face in a New Year speech.
The North has since sent its athletes to the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang, along with cheerleaders and performers, and dispatched a diplomatic delegation that included Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong.
She became the first member of the North’s ruling dynasty to set foot in the South since the end of the Korean War.
She shook hands several times with the South’s President Moon Jae-in, cheered a unified ice hockey team with him, and conveyed her brother’s invitation to a summit in Pyongyang.
The KCNA report suggested the North Korean leader wished to build on that rapprochement, saying he felt it “important to continue making good results by further livening up the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue”.
The report added that Kim “set forth in detail the orientation of the improvement of the north-south relations and gave important instructions to the relevant field to take practical measures for it,” without detailing what those measures were.