BEIJING (Yonhap) ― The chief of South Korea’s state-run railway company arrived in Beijing on Monday en route to North Korea, saying she was considering taking a train to Pyongyang from the Chinese capital.
Choi Yeon-hye, president and CEO of the Korea Railroad Corp., and four other officials made a stopover in Beijing to get visas from the North Korean Embassy here. The rare visit by Choi is for attending a meeting of the Organization for Co-Operation between Railways set for April 24-28.
The rail conference in Pyongyang is meant to boost international cooperation between railway operators, bringing together top rail officials from China, Russia and 25 other member states of the OSJD.
However, attention has been focused on whether Choi and North Korean officials would discuss a plan to link South Korea’s railway with Russia’s trans-Siberian railway via North Korea.
Asked about whether she would discuss the plan with North Korea and Russia during the conference, Choi replied, “Nothing has been decided yet. I would know once I go there.”
“And we plan to ask OSJD member states to allow South Korea to become a formal member,” Choi said.
Choi said he was considering using a train in Beijing to head for Pyongyang, but “I’m not sure yet.”
The visit comes as tensions are still high on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea fired a series of missiles and rockets off its east coast and threatened to conduct a “new form of nuclear test.”
South Korea has long talked about linking its rail system with Russia’s trans-Siberian railway via North Korea, though the project has made little progress due to political and security tensions in the region.
There are no direct flights between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.