[THE INVESTOR] President Moon Jae-in greeted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he crossed the border into South Korea at 9:30 a.m. for their first summit talks at Panmunjeom.
This is the first time a North Korean leader has set foot south of the border since before the 1950-53 Korean War, and the first inter-Korean summit since 2007.
Prior to Friday, inter-Korean summits were held in 2000 and 2007. In the first inter-Korean summit, South Korea was represented by President Kim Dae-jung, and in the latter by President Roh Moo-hyun. North Korea was represented by Kim Jong-il, the father of current leader Kim Jong-un, in both meetings.
The Moon-Kim summit is to focus on establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula, and the denuclearization of North Korea. The two leaders are scheduled to hold expanded and one-on-one summit talks during the course of the day.
While optimistic, Seoul officials remain cautious about the outcome of the meeting.
A day ahead of the meeting, Moon’s Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok stated that the scope of the inter-Korean agreement the two sides may reach remains unclear.
“At this point in time, when North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles) are highly advanced, reaching a denuclearization agreement is a matter that is fundamentally different from agreements reached in the early 1990s and 2000s. This is what makes this summit difficult,” Im said.
Im also serves as the chief of the preparation committee for Friday’s inter-Korean summit.
Im added that as the issue of denuclearization goes beyond the two Koreas, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaching a clear understanding on denuclearization would constitute a success for the summit.
“If (North Korea’s) will to denuclearize can be stipulated, and (that the agreement on the issue) means complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, I think this summit would be very successful regarding denuclearization,” Im said.
By Choi He-suk/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)