The world gave witness to scenes of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in joking and walking together across one of the most difficult borderlines in the world.
These scenes contrast to last year’s barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping international sanctions and fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.
“We are at a starting line today, where a new history of peace, prosperity and inter-Korean relations is being written,” Kim said before the two Korean leaders and top aides began talks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared at about 9:30 South Korean time for his historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He walked up to the demarcation line that divides the two countries and shook hands with Moon. The pair shared pleasantries and, in an impromptu moment, briefly crossed to the north side of the demarcation line for a photo op before walking back into the southern side.
“The military demarcation line is no longer a symbol of division but a symbol of peace.”
The moment when South Korean President Moon Jae-in crossed the military demarcation line into the northern side of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) was not planned, South Korea’s Blue House said in a statement on Friday.
“As I walked over here, I thought, why was it so difficult to get here?” Kim told Moon and the South Korean delegation as they began talks. “The separating line wasn’t even that high to cross. It was too easy to walk over that line and it took us 11 years to get here.”
The two leaders discussed denuclearisation and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula during their morning session, and are expected to sign a joint declaration after they reconvene Friday afternoon, a South Korean official told reporters.