U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 30 perform a symbolic handshake at the Military Demarcation Line between the two Koreas.
(The White House)
By Lee Hana
The historic meeting on June 30 held by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas was both unprecedented and unpredictable in several ways.
The leaders of both countries came together for the first time at the inter-Korean border and exchanged a historic handshake across the Military Demarcation Line. Both men then held bilateral talks for 53 minutes rather than the scheduled 2, launching what could be seen as their third summit.
All of this happened because of an invitation sent via Twitter by Trump just 32 hours prior to the meeting. On June 29, the last day of the 2019 G-20 Osaka summit, the American president tweeted his wish to see Kim at the inter-Korean border during his visit to South Korea.
“After some very important meetings…I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say hello,” the tweet said.
The North Korean leader subsequently accepted this invitation, and the historic meeting between him and Trump at the truce village of Panmunjeom became a reality.
U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-in walk together on June 30 before the U.S.-North Korea summit held at Freedom House in the truce village of Panmunjeom. (Yonhap News)
After shaking hands with Kim on the border, Trump briefly walked on North Korean soil to become the first sitting U.S. president to enter the North.
On their way to Freedom House, the summit venue located south of the inter-Korean border, Trump and Kim joined President Moon for a brief but unprecedented three-way gathering.
The Pyeongyang-Washington talks began shortly afterwards. President Moon did not go in, having announced a few hours prior to a media briefing following his summit with Trump that “today, we’ll focus on talks between the U.S. and North Korea. Inter-Korean talks will ensue on another occasion.”
Following the impromptu meeting, Kim positively assessed the day’s events by saying, “The fact that we peacefully shook hands in a place that symbolizes division shows that today is different from yesterday. The great relationship we have will give us the strength to overcome any obstacles or difficulties that come our way as we address the issues at hand.”
After his talks with Kim, Trump held a joint news conference with President Moon to inform the media on the outcome of Trump’s talks with Kim.
“The U.S. and North Korea agreed to put together working-level teams for negotiations,” said Trump, adding that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would form the teams led by Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun.
“From now, we’ll have to wait and see. I think after today we can look forward to better results.”
The symbolic DMZ meeting between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea has thus led to the resumption of working-level negotiations, providing a breakthrough after months of stalled dialogue since the failed Feb. 27-28 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.