A new chapter has been added in the history of the divided peninsula as the North Korean leader stepped across the inter-Korean border, where he was greeted by the South Korean president.
Kim Jong-un was greeted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in as he crossed the MDL – the Military Demarcation Line, the actual border – that runs through the center of the truce village of Panmunjom.
A loud gasp was heard in the huge press center, where some 3,000 reporters have gathered to cover the event – the third inter-Korean summit.
In his trademark black tunic and glasses, Kim strode alone to the MDL, demarcated by a line of concrete in the gravel between the truce huts of “conference row’ in Panmunjom, where a beaming Moon, more conventionally attired in suit and blue tie, awaited him.
The two leaders spoke privately for a few seconds, and then hundreds of reporters applauded as Kim stepped across the concrete into what is, for him, an enemy territory.
The two leaders shook hands and posed for photographs facing north and south. Kim looked solemn, Moon cheerful. Holding hands, the two crossed and re-crossed the border.
“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 the top aides began their talks.
Their small steps over the low concrete barrier were laden with symbolism. The frontier has been almost totally impermeable for ordinary Koreans since the Korean War ended, with an armistice in 1953.
A prominent member of the North’s delegation is Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jeong, whose presence in the South during the Olympics laid the groundwork for Friday’s summit.
It is believed that she was her father’s original choice to lead North Korea after his death; he replaced her with the tougher Kim Jong-un only due to the hostile environment surrounding the peninsula at the time. Some believe that she is the key architect of the détente moves now underway.
(Inputs from ANI)