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Gov’t mulls special envoy to North

Decision depends on if Kim Jong-un’s sister has favorable message
Feb 09,2018
The Blue House is considering possibly dispatching a special envoy to North Korea if Pyongyang sends a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un through its delegation for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, a senior presidential aide told the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday.

“If the North Korean delegation delivers Kim’s letter, we will decide on our response based on its content,” he said. “Depending on the content, we may send a special envoy to the North to make our response.”

The North announced on Wednesday that its delegation will include Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, first vice director of the Central Committee within the Workers’ Party. The decision quickly stirred speculation that Kim Yo-jong, the closest person to Kim Jong-un in the North Korean regime, may carry a message from her brother.

In the past, Moon has said he is open to the idea of sending a special envoy to the North. During his meeting with leaders of the ruling and opposition parties in September last year, Moon said, “I will send a special envoy soon, when the timing and conditions are right.” But he said the timing and conditions were not appropriate at the time.

The North Korean leader’s decision to send his sister, however, quickly changed the situation. A senior government official said it is an opportunity to send Moon’s message directly to Kim.

The Blue House had earlier considered sending a special envoy to the North in order to request its participation in the Olympics. In October, the National Unification Advisory Council made several proposals to Moon, including that it delay the Korea-U.S. joint military drills and dispatch a special envoy to persuade the North to participate in the Games.

“At the time, Moon actually approved the plans,” an official from the advisory council said. “Because the North decided to attend the Olympics, there was no need to send an envoy to persuade it to participate, but we believe the president’s endorsement of the idea to send a special envoy to the North is still effective.”

BY WI MOON-HEE [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]