While international sanctions on North Korea remain solidly in place, South Korea is looking for areas in which it can cooperate with North Korea, while respecting the rules.
On Wednesday, Seoul's Unification Ministry stressed that there are areas that South and North Korea can work on independently, regardless of the U.S. position.
The remark comes a day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed hope for more active inter-Korean cooperation in his New Year's Press Conference.
"Among the inter-Korean cooperation projects, there are those that have to be discussed with the U.S. and those that South and North Korea can work on independently. As a member of the international community, we will coordinate closely with the U.S. on the sanctions. But if North Korea responds, then there are quite a few projects we can work on. The government will seek realistic ways to do this and work on them."
One specific area Seoul is looking at is enabling South Korean citizens to travel to North Korea on their own.
On Tuesday, President Moon had said that individual trips to North Korea do not violate international sanctions and thus can be considered.
"Our understanding is that individual trips do not go against the international sanctions. So, once safety is ensured for our citizens, then we think this option can definitely be considered.
To find ways to do that, South Korea's nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon is visiting Washington this week to meet his American counterpart Stephen Biegun.
Lee told reporters Wednesday on his way there that South Korea and the U.S. are both seeking ways to revive the dialogue momentum with North Korea despite the sanctions, and some also point out that inter-Korean relations should be improved first to lead the way for relations between North Korea and the U.S.
He also explained that South Korea will be seeing what it can do with the North under the sanctions.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.