Kim Jong-un had initiated his reunification efforts by reactivating the hotline with Seoul after two years and announcing his country’s willingness to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics. That has set in motion a series of meetings between the two sides that have moved out of Korea and entered Switzerland. Officials from North Korea and South Korea have met in the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to discuss and iron out various issues connected to the Games to be held in Pyeongchang next month.

Daily Mail UK reports that the two Koreas have already begun dialogues at their shared border to work out the intricacies related to the pact.

These have started after a lull of two years and have brought a sense of relief all around.

Stepping stone to peace

Prima facie it appears that North Korea is keen to shed its earlier image. This change should be interpreted as a positive sign that could pave the road towards peace in the region. It has thrown up possibilities of a respite from the unrest that resulted from the missile and nuclear programs conducted by Pyongyang in defiance of UN sanctions. The reasons for this about-turn are still not clear, but it is an initial step towards de-escalation of tension.

The opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held on February 9 and North and South Korea have decided to march with a common flag.

It will be the Korean unification flag. The IOC has also approved the fielding of a united women's ice hockey team.

North Korea has participated in seven of the last 12 Winter Olympics; the last one was in Vancouver 2010. In the opinion of observers, its presence in the 2018 Winter Olympics is comparable to a diplomatic coup.

Pyongyang is expected to send a 500-plus delegation accompanied by more than 200 cheerleaders to make the Games a huge success. It will also take part in the Paralympics in March for which it will send across a separate delegation of supporters, athletes, journalists.

Will peace finally return?

The International Olympic Committee will have to ensure that the Games are conducted without violating any of the Olympic rules.

President of the IOC Thomas Bach has held talks with reps of North and South Korea on various subjects like existing UN sanctions on the North. One of these is the transfer of cash to North Korea. Another is the presence blacklisted officials at the Games. These must be avoided.

Moon Jae-in, president of South Korea, wanted reunification of the two Koreas and Kim Jong-un has extended an olive branch. The 2018 Winter Olympics have provided an opportunity that should help the cause and bring peace to the Korean peninsula.