S. Korean minister speaks well of N. Korea’s ruling family

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) --- The South Korean minister in charge of North Korea affairs publicly spoke highly of the communist neighbor's leader Kim Jong-un and his influential sister Friday, an assessment that reflects Pyongyang's surprising peace overtures.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon described Kim as a dialogue partner with whom to have "adequate consultations and open-minded conversation" during not only inter-Korean summit talks in late April but also his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, which is expected to be held in May.

The minister made the remark during a Seoul session of the National Unification Advisory Council, a presidential consultative body on the reunification of the peninsula.

Earlier this week, President Moon Jae-in sent a team of special envoys headed by his national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, to Pyongyang. They sat down with the North's leader, who has been reclusive in terms of summit diplomacy.

Cho was not a member of the delegation, but top government officials here apparently shared related information.

He also praised Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un.

Holding the post of first vice director of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's propaganda department, she is known as "North Korea's Ivanka."

"We made our own judgment that it's fortunate that there's a figure like Vice Director Kim Yo-jong in the North's leadership," the minister said, citing her personality.

She traveled to the South last month to attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. She played the role of her brother's special envoy, holding a series of meetings with the South's president and other senior officials.

The minister pointed out that she gave a "really, very comfortable impression" talking frequently with him with a smile on her face.

She was not talkative but quite skillful in communication, Cho added.

"I got the impression that she could be playing an important role in various work related to North Korea's external relations as well as South-North ties," he said.

Earlier Friday, Trump agreed to meet with the North's leader by May after receiving his message via Chung during a meeting at the White House on the results of the South Korean delegation's trip to Pyongyang.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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