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Speculation on Kim Jong Un's visit to Seoul grows

By
Wooyoung Lee
A South Korean holds up a postcard with a hopeful message pertaining to welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's possible visit to South Korea, in front of the Seoul City Hall in Seoul, South Korea, on Dec. 7, 2018. South Korea's unification ministry said on Monday that it is still possible for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit South Korea before the end of this year. Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE
A South Korean holds up a postcard with a hopeful message pertaining to welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's possible visit to South Korea, in front of the Seoul City Hall in Seoul, South Korea, on Dec. 7, 2018. South Korea's unification ministry said on Monday that it is still possible for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit South Korea before the end of this year. Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- As speculation grows over whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Seoul this month, South Korea's presidential office has reportedly sent an invitation to Kim to visit the South Korean capital next week, according to South Korean media reports.

"We haven't received an answer from North Korea yet," a senior presidential secretary for public relations Yoon Young-chan told reporters, Chosun Ilbo reported.

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Another official said that the presidential office is preparing for Kim's visit despite dates aren't fixed yet.

"If it's mid-December or the end of the year, we are getting ready for Kim's visit," an anonymous official was quoted as saying in the Chosun Ilbo report.

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"But It could delay to January," the official said.

The South Korean presidential office earlier sent an invitation for Dec. 12-14 as it thought Kim would be available to visit before he gets busy with major state anniversaries towards the end of the month. North Korea commemorates the seventh anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong Il on Dec. 17 and celebrates the 101st anniversary of Kim's grandmother Kim Jong Suk on Dec. 24.

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Other sources said that the dates are decided but held for an announcement later for security reasons.

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North Korea is known to keep travel plans for its leader a top secret. North Korea has often reported Kim's overseas trips with a slight delay from original schedules.

South Korean media reports have speculated two possible dates for Kim's visit to Seoul.

A report was made based on a source that the government asked N Seoul Tower, one of the landmarks in Seoul, not to receive any reservations between Dec.13-14. Another source said that a presidential suite room at Sheraton Grande Walkerhill hotel is unavailable for booking Dec. 18-20, according to Joongang Ilbo.

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The presidential office denied that it invited Kim from Dec. 18-20.

"Dates are open whether it's the end of the year or early next year. What matters is the North's decision," said Yoon on Wednesday.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon said at a news conference Wednesday that "no signal" has been made regarding Kim's visit to Seoul, according to Hankyoreh.

"The dates have never been fixed in the first place. The plan was to make it happen within this year if possible," he said.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested that Kim makes a reciprocal visit to Seoul before the end of this year during his visit to Pyongyang in September.

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