President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in (R) and Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, sign their joint declaration at Peace House on the ROK side of Panmunjom on April 27. XINHUA
Top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un and President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in met on April 27 for a historic summit at Panmunjom, the border village that has divided the Koreas since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Standing on the two sides of the military demarcation line, which is marked only by a low concrete slab, Moon and Kim shook hands and smiled to begin their meeting.
After walking across the MDL into the ROK side, Kim invited Moon to briefly cross the border into the DPRK side. This was an unscheduled event for the official welcoming ceremony.
Their handshake marked a historic moment in inter-Korean relations. Kim became the first DPRK leader to step onto ROK soil since the end of the Korean War, which ended in an armistice.
Their meeting was the third summit between the two Koreas after their first and second summits in 2000 and 2007, respectively.
After a formal talk at the Peace House on the ROK side of the border village of Panmunjom, Moon and Kim signed a joint declaration – the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.
In this document, the two leaders confirmed their common goal of realizing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula via complete denuclearization.
The leaders also agreed to formally end the Korean War. A specific end date will be declared later this year.
To formally end the Korean War, the two Koreas agreed to push for three-way or four-way talks involving the United States and China in order to replace the Korean armistice with a peace treaty.
The move, which has helped ease tensions between the two sides and brought the hope of achieving lasting peace for the peninsula, is being seen as a positive step toward peace and prosperity.
A number of countries, including China, have welcomed this development. China praised the joint declaration, expressing hope that both sides could implement the consensus reached at their summit in order to promote reconciliation and cooperation, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.
“This is a very important meeting, especially as it is now clear that the possibility of a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War might be discussed and a process to complete it agreed upon,” said Hugh White, a strategic studies expert from Australian National University.
According to White, the meeting will have the potential to mark a major change in northeast Asian strategic affairs.