seoul - For the first time in many years North Korea seems seriously prepared to improve the relationship with Seoul. Where promises were often broken at the last moment in the past, the dictator Kim Jong-un's regime is now strikingly cooperative. What's behind that?
Anyone who had stated a few weeks ago that Pyongyang would take part in the Olympic Games in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and that North Korea would negotiate with its southern 'enemy', was considered crazy. Both countries were at war with each other and the tensions ran dangerously high.
In 1988, when the Summer Games in Seoul were held, there was still the fear that Pyongyang would disturb the sporting global event through terrorist attacks by secret agents.
In the meantime everything is different. It actually looks like athletes, spectators and officials are traveling to the place on the east coast of the southern part of the peninsula. In fact, even- perhaps a little too optimistic- people think of combined teams from both countries at the Winter Games.
It would be utterly sensational if, for example, a North Korean figure skater were on the ice with a male South Korean partner. The International Olympic Committee in any case keeps all options open, strongly focused on an historic event.
Reality is probably much less romantic. Everything indicates that the north simply needs money. The economic sanctions have so weakened the country that Pyongyang has no other option than to ask for help.
And of course the nation prefers the 'old brothers' in South Korea than the 'yankees' from America. Seoul seems very willing to offer (financial) help, in the hope that relations will finally seriously improve. It is also a nice way to try to sideline the US in the conflict on the Korean peninsula.
Delegations from both parties met yesterday in the South Korean part of the village of Panmunjom. It was announced that both countries are going to talk about the tensions, so representatives said in a joint statement. The countries also want to conduct military consultations to improve the relationship.