North and South Korea announced Friday that they will hold official peace talks on Jan. 9 after Pyongyang sent a statement accepting Seoul's offer for dialogue next week. The talks will be held at the Peace House, located on the South Korean side of the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, according to South Korea's Ministry of Reunification.
The announcement was made hours after United States President Donald Trump agreed to postpone the joint war exercises on the Korean Peninsula until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in February.
Relations between North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and South Korea have experienced a thaw since the New Year, after North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un extended offers of diplomacy and a desire to send an athletic team to the Winter Olympic games to be held in the South.
North and South Koreans recognize these developments as a window for peace and reconciliation. After announcing the possibility of taking part in the games, Kim declared 2018 would be the year “of reconciliation,” while South Korean sports’ minister said the Olympic games could usher an “era of peace."
However, not everyone seems content with the possibility of de-escalation. On Twitter Trump has attempted to attribute the North’s overtures to his own militaristic threats. “Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North[?],” Trump asked through social media.
Both Kim’s statements warning the U.S. not to interfere in his country’s affairs and referring to the country's nuclear deterrence and weapons delivery system, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s request for a postponement of the military exercises signal that the scheduled talks are happening in spite and not thanks to Trump’s militarism.
The last time the two Koreas engaged in official talks was in December 2015.