North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threw out an unexpected curve ball at a carefully planned inter-Korean summit Friday.
As Kim crossed over the border to meet his southern counterpart on South Korean soil, the two Korean leaders exchanged pleasantries and shook hands, as expected. What took place immediately afterwards, however, was unplanned.
“When do I get to visit the North?” South Korean President Moon Jae-in reportedly asked Kim, who replied that he could do so right then and there. The two Korean leaders then stepped over the concrete slab delineating the inter-Korean border into North Korea. Hand-in-hand, Kim and Moon then stepped across the military demarcation line together.
The entire spectacle, one of the most talked about moments of the summit, was clear evidence that both sides understand the value of propaganda.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un crosses inter-Korean border to begin summit meeting with South Korean President Moon. It is the first time a member of the Kim dynasty has set foot on southern soil since the end of the Korean War in 1953. pic.twitter.com/yhPvwzuNPZ
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) April 27, 2018
This scene, historically significant for a number of reasons, was preceded by a polite yet somewhat awkward conversation.
“Nice to meet you,” Kim said. “How was the journey?” Moon asked, to which Kim replied, “It was fine.” The South Korean president then said that it was nice to meet Kim. “I can’t stop the feeling excited to meet in this historic place, and I am very moved that the president came to greet me at the demarcation line,” the latter responded.
“It was a courageous decision for you to come here,” Moon said, leading Kim to say that it was not. “It’s a historic moment,” Moon stated.
Indeed, Friday’s summit was significant, as it is the third inter-Korean summit and the first since Kim took power. Furthermore, Friday marked the first time a North Korean leader has visited South Korea since the end of Korean War hostilities.
During their meeting, the two sides agreed to increased bilateral cooperation, closer diplomatic ties, the cessation of hostilities and phased disarmament. Both Moon and Kim expressed a desire to finally end the Korean War. Timetables remain unclear, and commitments remain vague, but the results of Friday’s summit may have the potential to move the Korean Peninsula closer to a state of peace.
Moon is expected to visit Pyongyang later this year.
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