"North Korea's participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the games will be a success".
North Korea's past participation in sporting events in the South has largely depended on the political and military situation, though they did send a full team to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, near Seoul.
This week's exchanges follow a year dominated by fiery threats form Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump who vowed to destroy North Korea if threatened, even as U.S. diplomats pushed for a diplomatic solution.
The North Korean leader struck an unusually conciliatory note in his annual New Year's Day address Monday, declaring his hope "for (a) peaceful resolution with our southern border".
In that context, there was little in Kim's speech to suggest that President Donald Trump's bellicose rhetoric and uncompromising position on North Korea have succeeded at intimidating him into submission, but his combination of nuclear saber-rattling at the US with an overture of reconciliation to South Korea could provide some clues as to Pyongyang's diplomatic strategy going forward.
The two Koreas, which have been separated by a tense demilitarised zone since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war, last held high-level talks in 2015.
"It is quite noteworthy that the North's leader himself says the North is willing to participate in Pyeongchang", Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said. "The United States can never start a war against me and our country", Kim said.
The North has rattled the worldwide community in recent months with multiple missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test - purportedly of a hydrogen bomb.
"The United States should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table", he said during the nationally televised speech, according to a provisional translation by The Associated Press.
In typically bellicose language, it declared the latest round of United Nations sanctions imposed last month an "act of war", and Kim said his country had achieved the historic feat of "completing" its nuclear forces.
He said the two sides should "urgently meet to discuss the possibility".
"The entire area of the USA mainland is within our nuclear strike range", he continued, while claiming that now the U.S.
The talks would ultimately aim try to diffuse tensions over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.
Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia until last April and now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said there was an argument to be made to encourage North Korea's Olympic participation but that it should not be taken too far.
Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute, told CNN the softened tone toward South Korea was a surprise.
The Winter Olympic main venues are just 80 kilometres from the heavily fortified border with the North and the build-up to the event has been overshadowed by tensions running high over the Pyongyang's escalating nuclear and missile tests. "The chances of the North coming to the Olympics now seem to be more than 80 per cent". On Sunday, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told ABC News that the USA was closer than ever before to nuclear war with North Korea. "We look forward to Pyongyang's positive reaction to this".