Politics

Trump Becomes First Sitting US President To Set Foot In North Korea

Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images

Amber Athey White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump on Sunday became the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea during a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The meeting was the first between the two leaders since nuclear talks went sideways during a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, this past February. (RELATED: Here’s Why Trump’s Talks With Kim Jong Un Fell Apart)

After leaving the G20 Summit in Japan, Trump visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea with President Moon Jae-in and extended the invitation to Kim Jong Un to join them.

“We respect each other and [Kim Jong Un] has agreed to meet and I am going to meet him in about 4 minutes,” Trump told reporters shortly after 2 a.m. EST, according to the White House pool.

The two leaders shook hands at the Military Demarcation Line, and Kim Jong Un told Trump, “Good to see you again.” He added that he “never expected” to see Trump “at this place.”

At approximately 2:46 a.m., Trump briefly crossed over the line with Kim Jong Un, becoming the first U.S. president to walk on North Korean soil.

PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 30: A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un briefly met at the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday, with an intention to revitalize stalled nuclear talks and demonstrate the friendship between both countries. The encounter was the third time Trump and Kim have gotten together in person as both leaders have said they are committed to the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula. (Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images)

PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA – JUNE 30: A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un briefly met at the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday, with an intention to revitalize stalled nuclear talks and demonstrate the friendship between both countries. (Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images)

“Stepping across that line was a great honor,” Trump said. “I think it’s historic, it’s a great day for the world.”

The president added that he would consider inviting Kim Jong Un to the White House “right now.”

PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 30: A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un briefly met at the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday, with an intention to revitalize stalled nuclear talks and demonstrate the friendship between both countries. The encounter was the third time Trump and Kim have gotten together in person as both leaders have said they are committed to the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula. (Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images)

PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA – JUNE 30: A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. (Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images)

The two leaders later held a bilateral meeting at The Freedom House in South Korea where both men spoke to the press. Kim Jong Un, through an interpreter, said, “I believe this is an expression of [the president’s] willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future.”

Trump said he has developed a “good relationship” with Kim Jong Un.

After Kim Jong Un returned to his country, Trump told reporters that he was the one who offered to step across the line and that the North Korean leader said he would be “honored” by the gesture.

PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 30: A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, U.S. President Donald Trump, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un briefly met at the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday, with an intention to revitalize stalled nuclear talks and demonstrate the friendship between both countries. The encounter was the third time Trump and Kim have gotten together in person as both leaders have said they are committed to the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula. (Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images)

PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA – JUNE 30: A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, U.S. President Donald Trump, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. (Photo by Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images)

The last time the two leaders met in Hanoi to discuss denuclearization, the president abruptly ended the meeting and opted not to reach an agreement with Kim Jong Un, asserting that the North Korean leader had unrealistic expectations about a deal.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to de-nuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that,” Trump explained after the summit, adding, “Sometimes you have to walk.”