SEOUL – Pyongyang has not responded to Seoul’s proposal of holding a high-level meeting to discuss possible North Korean participation in the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang in 2018, a spokesperson for the South Korean government told EFE on Wednesday.
South Korea tried to contact North Korean representatives on Wednesday through one of the telephone hotlines in Panmunjom village, on the inter-Korean border.
The call was made at 9:00 am local time (0000 GMT), but there was no response for the second day in a row, a spokesperson for the South Korean Unification Ministry said.
In protest over South Korea’s shutdown of a jointly run industrial park in North Korea as punishment for the Kim Jong-un regime’s weapons programs, Pyongyang has not responded since February 2016 to any of Seoul’s calls, which was made via the two cross-border telephone lines.
On Tuesday, Seoul proposed to hold a meeting on Jan. 9 at Panmunjom Village to facilitate the North’s participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, after the North Korean leader said in his New Year’s address that he is open to dialogue so as to send a delegation to the Olympics.
Some analysts consider that Pyongyang could propose a later date, because the previous day, Jan. 8, is the birthday of Kim Jong-un, and a postponement would give him more time to prepare the meeting.
Should it take place, the meeting would be the first of its kind in more than two years between the two countries and would come at a time of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula due to Pyongyang’s weapons development.
Since he assumed the presidency in May 2017, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried to approach Pyongyang through dialogue, an offer that had been ignored by North Korea until Kim’s speech on Monday.
Figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik are the only two North Korean athletes qualified for the Pyeongchang Games, which will be held Feb. 9-25 in this South Korean town located about 70 kilometers south of the border separating the two Koreas.
In October, North Korea skipped the deadline of registering these two athletes in the Olympic Games, but they could still join the event if the International Olympic Committee gives them an invitation.