The first meeting between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and his counterpart Moon Jae-in was rich in symbolism, and moments made for the cameras to mark the historic occasion.
The world was watching when Kim stepped across the line that separates the divided Koreas to shake hands with Moon and take part in the the first face-to-face meeting of the two countries’ leaders for more than a decade.
Moon steps into North Korean territory
While Kim had been expected to step onto the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone for Friday’s summit, there had been no plans for Moon to do the same in the north.
That’s when the highly-choreographed proceedings went off script.
A transcript of the conversation showed Kim said he “was filled with excitement because of the meeting at this historic site.” He added that he was “very moved” that Moon had “come all the way to (the MDL) to greet him.”
When he asked Kim when it would be possible for him to visit the North, Kim said: “Maybe this is the right time for you to enter the North Korean territory.”
Kim then took Moon’s hand and led him over the raised demarcation line to the northern side.
It was an impromptu decision by both sides, a spokesman for Moon said.
South faces North across oval table
The summit got underway when key officials, including Moon and Kim, took their places at a bespoke oval table in the Peace House on the South Korean side of the DMZ.
The table was made with special measurements in mind – it’s 2018 millimeters long and 1953 millimeters wide – the year of the summit and the year of the ceasefire struck in the Korean War.
Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong sat beside her older brother, the only woman among six delegates, three from each country.
Jog to lunch
After morning talks, Kim traveled back to the northern side of the demilitarized zone in a limousine surrounded by 12 bodyguards, who ran alongside the vehicle.
Not one to take chances, despite being in one of the most secure locations in the world, Kim’s car was followed by minders to and from the talks.
The car and the phalanx of guards reappeared after the lunch break, jogging back to the location of a tree-planting ceremony.
The day’s events were rich in symbolism which extended to a ceremony involving a tree planted in 1953, the year the Korean War ceasefire was signed.
Wearing white gloves to grip their shovels, the leaders moved soil from the others’ territory: Kim’s came from a mountain on the southern island of Jeju, while Moon used earth from Mount Paektu in the north, before each leader watered the tree with water from the others’ territory.
They unveiled a plaque near the tree that reads: “Peace and prosperity planted,” along with the names of the two leaders and the date.
30 minutes of private talks
Earlier in the day, as Kim departed Pyongyang for the DMZ, North Korean state media said Kim would “open-heartedly discuss” issues relating to peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
After the tree-planting ceremony, they seemed to do just that.
The two leaders made their way to a footbridge, which was recently repainted sky blue – the same color as that of the Korean Unification Flag as well as the United Nations Flag – and talked for around 30 minutes.
The entire conversation was aired live on television worldwide, though it was impossible to hear what was said.
‘A new era of peace has just begun’
The day started with a handshake and ended with hugs.
The two leaders embraced after signing a declaration pledging to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and formally end the Korean War.
In the document, called the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula,” the countries vowed to end hostile acts towards each other.
“The two leaders solemnly declare … that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and a new era of peace has begun.”