South Korean officials have departed for North Korea to take part in the countries' first government-to-government contact in more than a year.
The officials were seen Tuesday entering the border control area dividing the two Koreas to prepare to cross into the communist country.
North Korea made a surprise offer to South Korea for talks last week. The two sides plan to discuss a troubled joint economic zone they operate across the border in the North.
Tensions between the two Koreas have been high since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office last year in Seoul vowing to take a tough line on Pyongyang.
North Korea has detained a South Korean worker at the Kaesong Industrial Complex amid allegations he denounced the country's political system.