North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he is open to talks with South Korea
01 January 2015
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's speech on Thursday that he was open to more talks or even a summit with his South Korean counterpart, a statement Seoul welcomed and in turn urged North Korea to take concrete steps toward normalisation of relations, The Associated Press reported.
Kim's call for improving relations between the two Koreas comes amidst growing criticism of North Korea's human rights record and in the wake of worsening ties with Washington over allegations of involvement in the massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures linked to "The Interview," a comedy ridiculing Kim.
Though North Korea had denied it had anything to do with the attacks, it termed the hack as a "righteous deed" and suggested it might have been carried out by sympathisers or supporters abroad.
"We believe we can resume suspended senior-level talks and hold other talks on specific issues if South Korea sincerely has a position that it wants to improve North-South relations through a dialogue," Kim said in the nationally televised address. "And there is no reason not to hold the highest-level talks if the atmosphere and conditions are met."
According to commentators, meeting such conditions had proven to be virtually impossible in the past. The two Koreas last held a summit in 2007 and, despite Kim's remarks, the likelihood of one happening again was bleak in view of the deep distrust between the two sides.
Meanwhile, The Telegraph reported that Kim Jong Un, was said to have mastered the art of driving a car by the age of three, and now North Korean state television had aired footage that appeared to show that he was also a skilled pilot.
The video, broadcast first on Tuesday, shows Kim looking through paperwork and making preflight checks as he prepares to take control of the aircraft.
According to local media, Kim piloted the plane and landed it by himself as two assistants sat next to him.
The camera mostly focused on the supreme leader and his assistants could hardly be seen in most of the video.
The footage was made public on New Year, as Kim made a televised speech to his nation stating that he would be open to a summit with his South Korean counterpart.
According to Kim, he saw no reason for not holding a summit with South Korean president Park Geun-hye or high-level talks if Seoul sincerely wanted better ties with Pyongyang.