U.S. President Donald Trump has said there is mixed potential in possible talks between North Korea and South Korea, and that sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs are beginning to take a toll.
"Sanctions and 'other' pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea," Trump said in a Twitter post. "Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea."
"Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time," Trump said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not -- we will see!"
In his New Year's address on January 1, Kim suggested the possibility of sending a delegation to South Korea to discuss North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics that run from February 9 until February 25.
"The Winter Games to be held in South Korea will be a good occasion for the country. We sincerely hope that the Winter Olympics will be a success," Kim said.
"We are ready to take various steps, including the dispatch of the delegation," he said. "To this end, the two Koreas can immediately meet."
South Korea responded on January 2 with Unification Minster Cho Myoung-gyon proposing a meeting of delegates at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone.
It would be the first time the two sides have met in more than two years.
Kim had also boasted about North Korea's nuclear-weapons capabilities in his televised New Year's speech, saying his country had the ability to hit all of the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons and that the nuclear button was "on my table."
"This is reality, not a threat," Kim said.
He said the country had "completed" the process of becoming a nuclear power and that "we must mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment."
He added, though, that it would only use such weapons if its security were threatened.
Most international experts do not believe that North Korea has yet developed a missile that could deliver a nuclear weapon the distance required to reach North America.
Kim did offer some conciliatory language to South Korea, saying the "path is open" to dialogue with an aim to improve ties between Pyongyang and Seoul.
"When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment," Kim said. "Both the North and the South should make efforts."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on January 2 that any improvement in relations between North and South Korea would involve finding a resolution to Pyongyang's nuclear program.
South Korea is a major ally of the United States, which has thousands of troops stationed in the South.
The United States and North Korea have been in a war of words that has intensified each time Pyongyang has tested its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in violation of United Nations resolutions.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP