The Seoul officials said on March 5 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a personal letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to express his condolences over the escalating crisis of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. As the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea reach over 5,700 and has claimed at least 35 lives, in his letter, Kim reportedly conveyed the message of comfort to the South Korean people over the spread of the fatal virus.
Senior South Korean presidential official Yoon Do-han also told the reporters that Kim had “underlined his unwavering friendship and trust toward President Moon and said that he will continue to quietly send his best wishes for President Moon to overcome” the outbreak. However, it was not immediately clear if Kim's letter was an attempt to mend the tensed relations with Seoul amid the deadlock in broader nuclear diplomacy with the United States. Just earlier this week, according to reports, Kim's sister had issued insults against Moon's presidential office in her first official statement.
According to Yoon, the South Korean President also sent back a letter on March 5 to North Korean Supreme Leader while conveying gratitude to him. Both Moon and Kim had built personal ties in 2018 when they had met at least thrice and reached a series of agreements over boosting the exchanges and lowering the military animosity. Moon had reportedly negotiated a deal for the settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis and even facilitated Kim's first summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in 2018.
However, relations between both neighbouring countries have suffered a setback after the second summit between Kim and Trump in Vietnam in early 2019 that ended without any deal on North Korea's nuclear program. Some experts have also said that North Korea is likely to reach out again to South Korea in order to get help in reviving its troubled economy since Washington has said that it will not ease the imposed sanctions on the North unless it takes significant steps towards denuclearization.
Meanwhile, Kim and Moon exchanged 'best wishes' when South Korea has already reported more than 3,000 deaths and it is also the highest impacted country by the COVID-19 outbreak after mainland China. According to reports, the cases are also expected to surge with the ongoing screening of more than 2,60,000 people associated with Shincheonji Church of Jesus. The South Korean President also visited Daegu Medical Centre and held a meeting with officials at the Disaster Control and Safety Centre to discuss containment measures to stem the spread of the deadly virus.