In a historic first, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27, 2018 crossed the border that separates the two Koreas at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to enter South Korea, becoming the first North Korean leader to step into South Korean territory since 1953. Kim was greeted by the South’s president, Moon Jae-in. The two leaders smiled and shook hands after which they crossed over to North Korea briefly and then returned to the South, holding hands. Kim Jong Un declared “a new history begins now”. The moment, a highly anticipated one, was streamed live in the South Korean capital Seoul.
The full day of talks between the two Korean leaders is expected to focus on three main issues – denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace and prosperity in the Korean peninsula. The talks are also intended to pave the way for another highly anticipated encounter between North’s Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.
The North Korean leader was accompanied by his sister Kim Yo Jong, who led North Korea’s delegation to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. The summit, the first for the two Koreas in over a decade, is the result of months of diplomatic negotiations on the part of South Korean leader Moon, who has been a longtime advocate of peace between the two Koreas. Being a significant diplomatic step, the summit was broadcasted live on screens across the South Korean capital of Seoul. Kim received a full welcoming ceremony, including a military band in traditional dress which played the Korean folk song ‘Arirang,’ well known in both North and South Korea.
According to reports, Kim Jong Un also apologised to Moon for interrupting his sleep following North Korea’s nuclear tests last year, when Moon had to convene security council meetings in the early hours of the morning. While speaking to Moon after crossing the border, North’s Kim Jong Un said, “As I walked over here, I thought ‘why was it so difficult to get here?’ 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.” Kim also stated, “we should value this opportunity so that the scars between the South and North could be healed. The border line isn’t that high; it will eventually be erased if a lot of people pass over it.”