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Pyongyang's Top Officials' Surprise Visit to S Korea Sparks Speculation Over Their Mission

RIA Novosti

12:51 04/10/2014

MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - Senior North Korean officials have made a surprise visit to the South Korean city of Incheon, where the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games are taking place today, Saturday, October 4.

'With Kim Jong Un out of sight for a month, a covey of North Korea's high officials popped down to South Korea for a last minute jaunt on Saturday. Their sudden appearance and red-carpet treatment by South Korean officials caused a media flurry. South Korean television network YTN followed the delegation's moves with extensive live coverage,' CNN notes.

Hwang Pyong So, a senior official of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Vice Marshal of the Korean People's Army, led the North Korean delegation. Experts have emphasized that the top officer is the second most influential political figure in the country after Kim Jong Un.

'The visit comes at a time when inter-Korean relations remain icy, while the absence of the North Korean leader from the public spotlight for several weeks, has stirred unsubstantiated rumors that he may be seriously ill or even a coup d'etat by disgruntled military officers has taken place in the isolationist country,' writes Yonhap, the largest South Korean news agency.

The visit of high-ranking officials, who are considered to be among Kim Jong Un's confidants, has sparked speculations that the surprise trip could be aimed at sending 'a reconciliatory message' to Seoul, the media outlet points out.

According to South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesperson Lim Byeong Cheol, the Pyongyang delegation 'would hold their main talks' with Ryoo Kihl-jae, the Unification Minister and Kim Kwan-jin, the national security director. However, Lim Byeong Cheol stressed that Seoul 'was not aware' if senior North Korean officials brought a special message from Kim Jong Un. He noted that the delegation didn't plan to meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The delegation will return to Pyongyang after the Asian Games' closing ceremony late Saturday evening, Yonhap reports.

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