The conciliatory tone is being seen as an early attempt to reach out to the South’s incoming leader, Park Geun-hye, who takes office in February as the country’s first female president…

But analysts cautioned that Kim’s apparent desire for detente after five years of deteriorating ties under the South’s hardline president, Lee Myung-bak, did not necessarily mark a major shift in North Korean thinking.

Kim’s statement “apparently contains a message that he has an intention to dispel the current face-off [between the two Koreas], which could eventually be linked with the North’s call for aid” from South Korea, Kim Tae-woo of the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul told Reuters.

“But such a move does not necessarily mean any substantive change in the North Korean regime’s policy towards the South.”