North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in held a historic summit Friday after shaking hands over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries, in a gesture laden with symbolism.
Kim said he was “filled with emotion” after stepping over the concrete blocks, making him the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ended in an armistice 65 years ago.
At Kim’s impromptu invitation the two men briefly crossed hand-in-hand into the North before walking to the Peace House building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom for the summit — only the third of its kind since hostilities ceased in 1953.
“I came here determined to send a starting signal at the threshold of a new history,” said Kim.
With the North’s atomic arsenal high on the agenda, Moon responded that he hoped they would reach “a bold agreement so that we may give a big gift to the whole Korean people and the people who want peace”.
Kim was flanked by his sister and close adviser Kim Yo Jong and the North’s head of inter-Korean relations, while Moon was accompanied by his spy chief and chief of staff.
It is the highest-level encounter yet in a whirlwind of nuclear diplomacy, and intended to pave the way for a much-anticipated encounter between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
The North’s official KCNA news agency said that Kim will “open-heartedly discuss… all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula”.
The White House said in a statement that it hoped the summit would “achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula”.