A South Korean president who had to flee the North and fight for democracy all his life, today met a tyrant from the third generation who is worshipped like a god and who primarily has his dynasty’s survival in mind.
This is truly Historic! For the first time since the end of the Korean War, 65 years ago, a North Korean leader has crossed over to the southern side, as Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at their mutual border ahead of an historic summit. pic.twitter.com/s34GwHq3Wz
— Ken Rutkowski (@kenradio) April 27, 2018
According to a report in AFP on the Military Demarcation Line that delineates the border, Moon asked Kim: “While you come to the South, when can I possibly go over there?”
After stepping over the line and becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953, Kim replied:
“Why don’t we just cross over now?” – prompting Moon’s unscripted entry into Northern territory.
Later, Kim Jong-un said: “The border is not even that high. Wouldn’t it disappear if many people kept walking across it?”
Treading South Korean soil for the first time, Kim may have always dreamt of this moment when he can step out of the dark shadow cast by his dad, Kim Jong-il, and his grandad, Kim Il-sung.
“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the official declaration said.
'A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history': North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's entry in a guestbook https://t.co/s9diXZAGUW #InterKoreanSummit pic.twitter.com/IYpDXcFFw9
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 27, 2018
“We speak the same language, we have the same blood, we share the same history, we are the same people. We should not fight each other, but strive for reunification,” Kim said.
A peace treaty is to replace the still valid armistice agreement, the families separated by the division are to be allowed to meet again, economically both want to cooperate more closely, a liaison office is to be opened again in the Kaesong special economic zone.
Together they want to work for a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons, which would also mean the withdrawal of the tactical US nuclear weapons from the region. The declared goal of both remains the reunification of the divided brother state.
MOON & KIM
With just one year in office, the social liberal Moon has achieved far more with his détente policy than his two conservative predecessors.
Kim, too, has achieved far more with his risky nuclear and missile program than his father and grandfather – the recognition of North Korea as a serious threat. Finally, Kim can negotiate at eye level with its arch enemy, the US.
“The road I have used today, I sincerely hope every South and North Korean citizen can use this road. We will be able to enjoy peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula without having to fear the war,” Kim Jong Un.
Before the joint declaration, the two Korean leaders held a ceremonial tree-planting, wherein the two shovelled some soil onto a pine tree that was already in the ground before the leaders arrived. The tree dates back to 1953, the year the armistice agreement of the Korean War was signed. Kim used soil from a mountain on the southern island of Jeju while Moon used earth from Mount Paektu in the north to plant the tree.
The two Korean leaders separately watered the tree with water from the other’s territory respectively.
After wrapping up the first-round session of talks at the summit, Kim Jong-un and his aides crossed back to the North side. Kim was escorted to lunch, in his Mercedes limousine, surrounded by a dozen jogging security guards.
Moon’s senior spokesman said that Kim joked to him that he would make sure not to interrupt Moon’s sleep anymore, apparently referring to the North’s series of early-morning missile tests last year, reported CBS News.
The summit is expected to set the stage for the first meeting between the United States President Donald Trump and Kim, either in May or June.
While President Donald Trump has given his “blessing” for the Koreas to discuss an end to the war, there can be no real solution without the involvement of Washington and other parties that fought in the war because South Korea wasn’t a direct signatory to the armistice that stopped the fighting.
North Korean leader Mr. Kim and South Korean President Moon announced after their summit on Friday that the Koreas would push for three-way talks including Washington or four-way talks that also include Beijing on converting the armistice into a peace treaty and establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
When Kim met Xi Jinping, China’s president, he was reportedly strongly advised to de-escalate military tensions and concentrate instead on restoring North Korea’s ailing economy.
If Trump now tries to play hardball with Kim, he risks looking like a warmonger and a bully whose policies are inimical to Korean interests, north, and south.