A delegation of three senior North Korean officials arrived in South Korea for the closing ceremony of this year’s Asian Games.
The North Korean visit in South Korea is seen as a rare opportunity for high-level talks.
The North Korean team is led by Hwang Pyong-so, who is considered to be the second most important official after leader Kim Jong-un.
Hwang Pyong-so is expected to meet South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae and a senior security adviser.
The visit comes as speculation continues about the health of Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public since September 3. A recent official documentary showed him limping and being overweight.
Hwang Pyong-so is considered to be the second most important official in North Korea after leader Kim Jong-un (photo AP)
The three North Korean officials arrived in the city of Incheon – the venue of the Asian Games.
They will take part in the closing ceremony of the major sporting event later on Saturday, October 4.
They are also expected to hold talks over lunch with Ryoo Kihl-jae and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin before returning home.
Hwang Pyong-so is the top political officer at the Korean People’s Army. The other two officials are Choe Ryong-hae and Kim Yang-gon – key members of the ruling Workers’ Party.
Despite that harsh rhetoric of recent years, the visit indicates a desire for economically-pressed North Korea to have closer relations with the South.
The visit has also caused speculation about Kim Jong-un, who has been absent from public view for a month.
What the closest members of his inner circle tell the South Korean government will be analyzed to try to discern the health and views of Kim Jong-un back in Pyongyang.
[youtube mlyi0mjRoAs 650]
North Korea has decided to stop sending cheerleaders to South Korea for Asian Games 2014, which would have been the first such trip in almost 10 years.
Pyongyang had said a group would accompany athletes taking part in the 16th Asian Athletics Championships in September in the South Korean city of Incheon.
However, it changed its mind because South Korea had appeared to be “displeased”.
North Korea accused the South of quibbling over details, and of viewing the group as a political propaganda tool.
“The South side took issue with the scale of the cheerleading squad and the size of the flag of the DPRK [North Korea],” a statement carried by KCNA news agency said.
North Korea has decided to stop sending cheerleaders to South Korea for Asian Games 2014
The statement said the South “finally raised even the issue of expenses which the North side had never mentioned, bringing the talks to a rupture”.
South Korea said it was disappointed at the “unilateral” move and said it hoped Pyongyang would change its mind.
The squad of dozens of young women performing synchronized moves traditionally attracts attention in South Korea.
Cheerleaders last came in 2005 for the Asian Athletics Championships, also held in Incheon.
That contingent was made up of 101 cheerleaders, including – reports say – Ri Sol-ju who went on to marry North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
Tension remains high between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Pyongyang is widely believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons’ development and has carried out three nuclear tests, most recently in 2013.
North Korea traditionally alternates threats and olive branches towards its southern neighbor.
[youtube n1yUllvE6Ek 650]