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South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un exchange letters

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Korean leaders Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in exchanged personal letters this week, the North’s state news agency KCNA reported. This file photo shows the two leaders at the end of an inter-Korean summit in 2018.

Pyeongyang Press Corps | Getty Images News | Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded to a personal letter from outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in this week, the North’s state news agency KCNA reported.

According to KCNA, Moon said he want to make joint declarations from the two sides “the foundation for the reunification” even after he steps down as president. Kim “appreciated the pains and effort taken” by Moon, the report said.

“The exchange of the personal letters between the top leaders of the North and the South is an expression of their deep trust,” KCNA said.

Moon’s spokesperson said the president asked Kim to remain committed to cooperation, and that dialogue should overcome the “era of confrontation,” Reuters reported.

The news comes days after the reclusive North conducted yet another missile test, and weeks before incoming South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration on May 10.

Relations between the two sides initially warmed under Moon, who held three summits with Kim in 2018. But ties deteriorated sharply, and the North threatened military action. It also blew up its joint liaison office with South Korea in 2020.

However, the letters between Moon and Kim do not represent a shift to diplomacy, according to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. He noted that North Korea has planned military displays.

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Still, he said the friendly communication between the two sides is “a reminder that inter-Korean relations are not entirely confrontational and should include dialogue.”

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