The leaders of North and South Korea have expressed their hope to improve inter-Korean ties and their will for unification.
South Korean President, Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Chairman of the State Affairs Committee, Kim Jong Un took the commitment on Friday 27th April 2018 during the third Inter-Korean Summit in the Peace House at the truce village of Panmunjeom.
Panmunjeom is located in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), 50 km north of Seoul and 10 km east from the city of Gaeseong, a city which now belongs to North Korea. This area is most notably known for the peace talks that were held here on 25th October 1951 and on 27th July 1953 when the Armistice Agreement was signed marking the end of the Korean war. It is now beyond the jurisdiction of both the North and South. The armistice building was renamed by North Korea as the Peace House.
The summit which is holding amidst a highly critical moment of tension on the Korean Peninsula is an opportunity for negotiation and dialogue opened across the region.
Prior to the meeting between the two leaders for the first in eleven years, South and North Korea agreed to install a hotline between the two heads of State to defuse military tensions and facilitate close consultations. The first telephone conversation between the two leaders was due to take place prior to the 3rd Inter-Korean Summit.
According to the Inter Korean Summit website, in the build up to the summit, the North had made clear its commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should military threats against the North be removed and the safety of its regime be guaranteed.
The North had also expressed its intent to engage in frank dialogue with the United States on denuclearization and the normalization of Pyeongyang-Washington relations.
Strategic provocation including nuclear test and ballistic missile test-launch are to be suspended during dialogue as earlier indicated by the North. They also banned the use of nuclear weapons and conventional weaponry against the South.
The summit held at the Peace House in Panmunjeom is the first meeting of the leaders of the South and North in 11 years since the second summit in 2007 following the first in 2000, and the North’s leader will be stepping onto the South Korean side of Panmunjeom for the first time. This summit will be prepared with a focus on assisting the two leaders to better concentrate on their talks.
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a brief chat lobby of the Peace House before the summit.
Upon entering the summit venue, the second floor of the Peace House, Kim Jong Un said, “When I was walking across the 200 meters [to cross the Military Demarcation Line], I was thinking, ‘Why did it look so far?’ and, ‘Why did it look so difficult?’”
The Northern leader told President Moon that, “I hope we can cherish the opportunity today so that it can become a chance to heal the wounds between the North and the South. The MDL isn’t even that high, and I believe it will eventually disappear when many people step over to cross it.”
President Moon expressed the wish that after Panmunjeom other meetings should follow in Pyeongyang, Seoul, on Jeju Island and at Baekdusan Mountain. “We would do well to reflect on the failures of the past. I said that, during the rest of my term in office, I hope that we can maintain this same speed that we’ve had ever since Chairman Kim’s New Year’s Eve speech,” said President Moon.
In his respond, Chairman Kim said, “The department where my sister works came up with the catchphrase ‘malima speed battle,’ meaning at the speed of a war horse. I guess that can be the speed for unification of the two Koreas.”
He added that, “Although we failed to make it over the past 11 years, we’ve made such great developments in just 100 days. If we have the firm determination and work together hand-in-hand, nothing will be impossible,” emphasizing the importance of mutual trust and faith.
“We should meet more often,” said the North Korean leader. “Let’s commit ourselves to working together, and never go back to the initial starting point,”
The two leaders expressed a common understanding on the need to accelerate the speed of the establishment of peace and unification during a press briefing at the Panmunjeom press centre.