July 21, 2017 / 1:50 PM / 2 years ago

A new dawn: South Korea seeks new talks with Pyongyang

South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends a news conference in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

(Reuters) - Earlier this month South Korea proposed military talks with the North. The formal initiative from Seoul’s new government could lead to the first high-level discussions between the rival states since 2015.

North and South Korea are technically still at war, but as Kim Jong Un in the North speeds up his missile tests, Southern President Moon Jae-in wants to persuade Pyongyang to revive a “sunshine” era of talks from the early 2000s. Skeptical media and analysts have dubbed his efforts “moonshine.”

A Reuters analysis of South Korean unification ministry data shows how in five decades of relations between North and South, communication has rarely been so barren. (tmsnrt.rs/2t8i6no)

Changes in relations between North and South have hitherto largely been driven by politics in the democratic South, where some new administrations have rapidly overturned their predecessors’ policies, the data shows.

Totalitarian North Korea has remained relatively consistent, but its banned nuclear and missile programs have slowed dialogue efforts.

If fresh talks do go ahead, they could lead to the first reunions of a small number of families still separated by the Korean War this October when both Koreas celebrate Chuseok, a national holiday of thanksgiving.

North Korea has not yet officially responded to the proposal from the South, but a commentary in the ruling Workers’ Party newspaper dismissed it as “nonsense.”

Reporting by Jin Wu, Weiyi Cai and Simon Scarr in Singapore; Writing by James Pearson in Seoul; Edited by Sara Ledwith

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