The leaders of North and South Korea signed an agreement on Friday agreeing to work towards the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” in what was the closing act of the first summit between the two in over a decade.
A pledge to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace was also included in the agreement, along with a consensus to stop propaganda broadcasts across the border from May 1.
Promises included pursuing military arms reduction, ceasing “hostile acts,” turning their fortified border into a “peace zone,” and seeking multilateral talks with other countries, such as the United States
“Peace and prosperity” were a focus of the whole day’s proceedings, beginning with encouraging opening remarks from South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they met at the heavily fortified demilitarised zone between the two countries at 9.30am local time.
Kim became the first North Korean leader to cross into the South since the outbreak of the Korean War as he made his way to the Peace House where this historic summit is taking place.
“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 top aides began talks.
Holding hands and smiling, the two received flowers and took photos with a young boy and girl, residents from a village within the demilitarised zone.
In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.
“I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person,” Kim said as he grasped Moon’s hand across the border.
The two made their way along a red carpet lined with South Korean honour guard in historic dress.
Kim stopped to sign a guest book in the South’s Peace House before the two leaders met for a private discussion.
“A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history,” Kim wrote in Korean in the book, dating and signing the entry.
Kim was very positive in his remarks before the official dialogue session began. While he said he wanted to hold “frank” discussions, he was also optimistic for a “good outcome.”
“I hope to write a new chapter between us, this is the starting point for us. We will make a new beginning,” he said, as reported by The Guardian. “It has taken 11 years for this to happen. Walking here I wondered why it has taken so long.”
“Through today’s meeting, I hope we won’t go back to square one again and non-implementation of what we agree won’t happen again,” he added, referring to past agreements that failed to deliver.
“I hope we can live up to the exceptions that others have on us,” and “I hope there can be agreements to fulfil those great expectations.”
Moon then made a few opening remarks before journalists were asked to leave.
“I hope the whole world is paying attention to the Spring that is spreading throughout the Korean peninsula,” Moon said. “There is a huge burden on our shoulders… Your visit makes the military demarcation line a symbol of peace, not division,” he added.
Dinner was also discussed, with Kim noting the world’s interest in the menu for the event.
“I saw earlier that the dinner menu here is a very hot topic,” he said. “I also brought with me cold noodles from Pyongyang so President I hope you can enjoy the Pyongyang noodles.”
The meeting, aimed at ending their decades-long conflict and easing tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons programme, comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump.
Today’s meeting will likely dictate the atmosphere and possibly the outcome of this next step in North Korea’s outreach to the international community.
The morning session covered denuclearisation and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean officials. The afternoon session is anticipated to conclude with both sides signing a joint declaration.
At one point in discussions, Kim reportedly said he had heard Moon was “always waking up early” due to North Korea’s missile tests. He promised not to interrupt his sleep in the future, South Korean presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.
Prior to the summit, Kim pledged to halt all nuclear and missile tests.
Later in the afternoon, Kim and Moon planted a tree symbolising peace in the demarcation zone. With shovels in hand, both leaders poured soil at the base of the pine tree that dates back to the end of fighting in the Korean War in 1953.
A plaque was unveiled next to the tree stating: “we plant peace and prosperity,” signed by both leaders.
The summit is the first time key moments such as Kim crossing the border into the South, the two leaders shaking hands and walking to the Peace House for their talks, were broadcast live.
Additional reporting by Reuters.