The two Koreas have agreed in principle to talks aimed at mending their almost nonexistent relations, but they are stalled on the question of where to meet.
South Korea has suggested that high-level talks take place in its capital, Seoul, but North Korea has countered that only lower-level negotiations should take place and they should be held in its border city of Kaesong.
The rival Koreas have not met face to face for such negotiations since February 2011.
It's too early to tell whether North Korea's offer on Thursday of talks with the South — potentially the first such dialogue in years — is more than just another negotiating tactic.
But Seoul readily accepted the offer, and though Pyongyang said the agenda should be discussing the reopening of the jointly run Kaesong factory complex inside North Korea, it left the door open for the possibility of broader negotiations.
When the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died two years ago, his son Kim Jong Un rose to power. The world knew practically nothing about the young and untested leader. In fact, nobody knew exactly how young he was until his birth date was revealed by a man who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong Il's former sushi chef and longtime confidante.
Beijing has long been about the closest thing to an ally that Pyongyang enjoys, but the seizure of a Chinese fishing boat by unidentified North Koreans has threatened to put an already tenuous relationship on even shakier ground.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted by The New York Timesas making it fairly clear that his government was not happy about the development.