The South Korean president has met with two North Korean officials for the first time since taking office 18 months ago. Lee Myung-bak has been labelled by the North as a “traitor to the state” for hardening his country’s stance against its neighbour, and making aid dependent on nuclear disarmament.
That aid had come with no strings attached under former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, who died last week. The North Korean delegation returned to Pyongyang just before his state funeral today. The six officials had come to pay respect to a man whose “Sunshine Policy” ushered in warmer relations between the two countries. He won the Nobel peace prize in 2000 after brokering a summit that went some way to healing the wounds of two countries still officially at war. The North’s recent nuclear tests and the South’s more hardline approach have seen relations become frostier. Today’s meeting is a sign of a new thaw.