Heading the delegation was Hwang Pyong So, who arrived at Incheon airport in full military uniform, and Choe Ryong Hae, two senior aides to North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un who were received in the South as his personal envoys.
               
Kim Yang Gon, a senior ruling Workers' Party official and a long time veteran of dealings with the South, was also among the delegation arriving at Incheon for the closing ceremony of the Asian Games.
               
It was not clear what motivated Pyongyang to undertake the surprise visit, which came with less than 24 hours notice, but it appeared to be in line with leader Kim's state propaganda drive for the country as a "sports superpower". Kim is a sports enthusiast, and is known to follow basketball and soccer.
               
The officials met top South Korean officials, including the unification minister, tasked with inter-Korean affairs, and President Park Geun-hye's national security adviser.
 
"The Asian Games have been a significant event that showcased the nation's glory and strength to the world," Kim said at the meeting. "It was an enormous joy and pride for the nation as both the North and the South performed well."
               
The North agreed to resume talks, stalled since February, between senior officials some time between late October and early November.
               
The two Koreas are technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce and not a peace treaty. Armed clashes in recent years have killed soldiers on both sides, and in 2010 civilians were killed when the North bombed a Southern island.
               
South Korea cut off political and commercial ties with the North that year, when one of its navy ships was torpedoed and sunk, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed Pyongyang for the attack.
               
The attacks, along with the North's nuclear weapons programme and human rights abuses, have resulted in inter-Korean relations deteriorating sharply in recent years.
               
Hopes of a peaceful resolution have repeatedly been dashed, with the North reneging on deals, walking out on talks and threatening to punish its neighbour with a "sea of fire".
               
South Korea insists Pyongyang denuclearise for the two sides to come closer together, but few believe the North will ever surrender the ultimate weapon because it provides security for both the country and the government itself.

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