Saturday 23 February 2019

Kim sends 'warm' letter to Seoul - as fan clubs plan to greet him

Invite: Kim Jong-un expressed regret that he had been unable to visit South Korea. Photo: REUTERS
Invite: Kim Jong-un expressed regret that he had been unable to visit South Korea. Photo: REUTERS

Nicola Smith and Junhoi Lee in Seoul

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has written a rare letter to Seoul vowing to "frequently" meet Moon Jae-in, South Korea's president, to discuss nuclear disarmament.

In the missive, described by South Korean officials as warm in tone, Mr Kim pledged to pursue peace between the two countries and expressed regret that he had been so far unable to visit South Korea after Mr Moon invited him to do so in September. But he expressed a strong will to visit the South Korean capital in the future and Mr Moon welcomed his overtures via his social media account.

"If we meet together with sincerity, there is nothing we cannot achieve," Mr Moon said.

The North Korean leader, long denounced as a dictator in the South, can expect a warm welcome from at least a section of the South Korean population if he arrives. In recent months fan clubs have sprung up to prepare a welcoming party for his visit.

Earlier this month, dozens of South Korean university students in black winter coats sat down on a frozen pathway in Seoul's Maronie Park to discuss their unlikely new hero.

Clutching bunches of pastel pink rosebays, symbolising the sea of flowers that greeted Mr Moon on his trip to Pyongyang in September, they broke into song.

"Let's make reunification happen a minute sooner," the students chanted, in a refrain referring to their political goal to see the Korean peninsula unified.

The meeting was a stark reflection of the perceptional shift taking place in the South. "Until now, we did not know Kim's true self. We only saw the media portrayal of him as an evil man!" one speaker said.

Such scenes would have been unthinkable in the South Korean capital one year ago, as Pyongyang was still threatening Seoul and Washington with the prospect of war. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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