Talks on Olympics could be helpful for two Koreas

Published Jan 5, 2018 at 4:00pm

Dialogue between prosperous South Korea and the poor but heavily armed North Korea, prompted by a need for coordination on how to deal with the upcoming Winter Olympics, seems a useful step forward.

The meeting, the first since 2015, proposed Monday by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his annual New Year’s Day address and consistent with the approach to North Korea of relatively new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, is scheduled for Jan. 9. It will be held in Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarized zone between the two countries.

The topics on the agenda are likely to be, first, the modalities of North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics, to begin Feb. 9 at Pyeongchang in South Korea. The topic of meetings of families divided by the border, a recurrent subject, is also bound to arise.

Call the talks exploratory, or a South Korean fishing expedition, or an effort to assure security at the Winter Games. Whatever way, these parties talking to each other is better than the North firing off ballistic missiles and the South and the United States flying bombers and sailing expensive naval vessels around the divided peninsula.

What China and the United States should want to see in Korea is peace and quiet. How the two Koreas and the world get there is the hard question. These initial talks on neutral subjects could help.