The exchange came a day after South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program must be resolved diplomatically, and added that she was certain Washington would consult her government first if a military option were to be considered.
In December, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution against North Korea, which caps imports of refined oil products, including diesel and kerosene, at 500-thousand barrels a year. "An attack on [South Korea] will be severely rebuffed if it's attempted".
"I think it is skeptical that North Korea would actually use its nuclear weapon against the US and South Korea", the minister said, responding to questions following his keynote speech at the Fullerton Forum hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
South Korean Defense Minister shakes hands with US Defense Secretary James Mattis during their summit at the US Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 27. North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to the games.
A joint press release by Song and Mattis issued after their meeting addressed that criticism insisting that the two countries can not be separated.
The pre-Olympic cultural concert will likely showcase North Korea music as well as contemporary and traditional music from the South Korean side. He has called the talks a "positive indicator", but questioned how much traction such discussions will have.
"I think it's a huge breakthrough". "The Olympics are going to end in mid-March", and the Paralympic Games follow.
If such plans are finalized, it would mark the first direct South Korean flight to the North since former first lady Lee Hee-ho made a rare goodwill visit to Pyongyang in 2015, the official said.
Liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in sees the Games as an opportunity to resume meaningful contact with the North following an extended period of animosity over its nuclear weapons and missiles program.
Washington agreed to delay them until after the Olympics, which will be held on February 9-25 in the South Korean alpine town of Pyeongchang.
Mattis said the United States and South Korea welcome the Olympic Games talks between North Korea and South Korea, but at the same time, "remain steadfast with the worldwide economic pressure campaign to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula".
Lee is the widow of former South Korean President and Nobel Peace Prize victor Kim Dae-jung, who is remembered for his rapprochement policies with the North that led to a historic summit with late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000.