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Friday, April 27, 2018

Kim Jong-un will cross the border for historic summit with South Korea

Por Jade

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will cross on foot the line of military demarcation that divides the two Koreas for the celebration of the historic summit on Friday, the South Korean presidency office reported. The Seoul presidency also announced that Kim Jong Un's sister, Yo Jong, will be part of the Pyongyang delegation, as will the North Korean head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, will wait for Kim across the divide at 9.30 local time (0.30 GMT) and both will be escorted by an honor garrison to Peace House, the building that will host the summit and is located in the southern fringe of the militarized inter-Korean border. In this way, Kim will become the first North Korean leader to technically step on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean War (1950-1953), which ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty. Although many of the preparations for the event have not been unveiled, all the details were finalized this week between the delegations of both countries: from the gastronomic menu to the exact moment in which the rulers of the North and the South will shake hands for the first time .

Before the morning session, the North Korean leader will sign the Golden Book. Afterwards, each delegation will have lunch separately and before resuming talks Kim and Moon will plant a tree in the demarcation line. After both parties sign an agreement, a joint statement will be published. The day will conclude with a banquet and then a farewell ceremony that will mark Kim's return to the North. This inter-Korean summit is the third in history, after those held by the late leader and father of the current president of the North, Kim Jong-il, and South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in the years 2000 and 2007, respectively. Although these meetings ended in unfulfilled promises, both Seoul and the international community are living with optimism and expectation this new meeting.

The enthusiasm is explained in the fact that this summit was unthinkable a year ago, when the arms race of the communist regime sparked a global crisis, after successfully conducting three long-range missile tests and its most powerful nuclear test so far. The tension in the Korean peninsula only grew with the insults and cross warnings of Trump and Kim, who even threatened to attack the American island of Guam. However, the situation changed at the beginning of this year, when the North Korean leader accepted the invitation of Seoul to participate in the South Korea Winter Olympic Games, a step that started the thaw. In recent months, both the South Korean government and the US accelerated contacts with the communist regime, which it undertook to address at both the inter-Korean summit and the Trump-Kim meeting - the first in history between the leaders of both countries - the end of the atomic program.

As a gesture, Pyongyang announced last weekend that it will freeze its missile and nuclear bomb tests and dismantle its atomic test center, on condition that the survival of the regime is guaranteed. Many analysts believe that this phase of détente was possible precisely because Pyongyang claims to have achieved the status of "nuclear power" and, therefore, feels qualified to negotiate with Seoul and Washington with the same cards on the table.