North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's speech on Monday he was "open to dialogue" with Seoul and for athletes from the North to possibly take part in the Winter Games. The North sees the regular war drills between the South and the United States as preparations for war. But if there are talks, they would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015. However, Kim appeared to extend an olive branch toward South Korea, wishing it success in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The light-grey suit and matching tie North Korea's Kim Jong Un donned for his New Year's address was likely carefully calculated to project a softer, more relaxed image to go with his surprise offer for talks with Seoul, analysts said on Tuesday.
"I view chairman Kim Jong-un's remarks about sending a North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics and holding government-level dialogue as a response to our proposal to turn the PyeongChang Olympic Games into a groundbreaking chance to improve South-North relations and establish peace", the president said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean national security adviser, said Seoul should have taken more time before answering.
"We achieved the goal of completing our state nuclear force in 2017", Kim said in a speech broadcast live by state TV.
South Korea says it is inspecting a Panama-flagged oil tanker suspected of evading global sanctions by trading with North Korea.
Wind Chills Could Go Below Zero on New Year's Day
We'll be in single digits, close to 0, to ring in the new year, with lows back below across the state Monday morning. Don't expect any big thaw or warming trend, as high temperatures are expected to remain below freezing indefinitely.
Moon's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
His comments come after a former top U.S. military officer warned that the United States is now closer than it has ever been to a nuclear war with the North, with little hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
An official from South Korea's Foreign Ministry said the 5,100-ton KOTI and its crew members were being held at Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port on the country's west coast amid an inspection over supposed "North Korea-related" activity.
North Korea would focus in 2018 on "mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment". The U.S. "should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality".