SEOUL: It was a moment the world had been waiting for - Kim Jong Un on Friday (Apr 27) stepped over the border that divides the two Koreas, becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ended 65 years ago.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in stood ready to welcome him. Everything had been carefully planned and rehearsed but Kim went off-script when he invited his southern counterpart to join him over the border.
Grabbing his hand, Kim led Moon over to the northern side briefly, before crossing back to the south, still hand-in-hand.
Later in the afternoon, after planting a tree and watering it with water from rivers in the South and North, the two leaders walked into a small glen along the border for their private tete-a-tete as the sun set.
Here is what Kim and Moon said to each other during their first meeting, according to a transcript released by South Korea.
Moon: You came to the South, but when can I go over to the North?
Kim: [Stepping across the Military Demarcation Line to the South side] Why don’t we go over now?
Moon and Kim then crossed north of the Military Demarcation Line, where they had a photo taken from the North side, something that was not originally planned.
After a prolonged clasp lasting almost half a minute, a beaming Moon invited his guest over to South Korea.
INVITATION TO THE BLUE HOUSE
Moon: Foreign dignitaries like the traditional honor guard, too … It’s unfortunate you can only see the simplified version of the traditional honor guard routine. If you come to Cheong Wa Dae [Blue House], we can show you a far better performance.
Kim: Is that so? I will visit Cheong Wa Dae whenever you invite me.
UNSCHEDULED PHOTO SESSION
Kim: There are some officials who came here today and need to return after the review of the honor guard.
Moon: Then, I hope all the official delegates from the South and the North can stand together for a commemorative photo before some of them return to the North.
OPPORTUNITY TO HEAL OLD WOUNDS
Moon: How did you get here?
Kim: I came here by car via Gaeseong early this morning. You must have departed early in the morning, too.
Moon: It just took me about an hour because it is only 52km away.
Kim: [Smiles] I was told that you used to be unable to get a good night’s sleep, being awakened in the wee hours of the morning because you had to attend the National Security Council meetings because of us. You must’ve gotten into the habit of rising early in the morning.
Moon: I’ll sleep well, free from care, from now on, because you gave your word when our special envoy went to the North.
Kim: I’ll make sure that you can sleep soundly. While walking down the mere 200 or so meters, I wondered why it has appeared to be so distant and why it has been so hard. I originally expected to meet you in Pyeongyang, while now I think it is better for us to meet here. Many people with high expectations are watching us meet here at the very spot that symbolises confrontation.
On my way here I saw that those who had been nervous about any shelling from North Korean army, including the Yeonpyeong Island residents, North Korean defectors and displaced people, do have high hopes for our meeting today. I look forward to making the most of this opportunity so that we have the chance to heal the wounds between the North and the South. The demarcation line, which is in fact not high, may disappear with many people stepping on it and passing over it.
In the afternoon, both leaders took part in a ceremonial tree-planting next to the Military Demarcation Line. The pair wore white gloves, grabbed shovels and tossed soil from mountains in both countries to the base of the pine.
The leaders unveiled a smooth standing stone in front of the tree inscribed: "Peace and Prosperity Are Planted" before posing for photographers.
Moon: We Koreans say pine trees are strong and they are green all around the year, even in winter as well.
Kim: Like pine trees, we have to overcome challenges that may come before us down the road.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Moon: Today, Chairman Kim and I are the main characters. Learning a lesson from past failures, we will do a good job. As past agreements were reached halfway through or belatedly at the end of the term of an administration, their implementation failed when there was a change of administration. About one year has passed since I took office as President. I hope Chairman Kim will be able to keep up the pace shown in his New Year’s message to today’s meeting while I am in office.
Kim: Kim Yo Jong’s [Kim Jong Un's sister's] department coined a term, “acceleration like a horse that can gallop 10,000 miles a day” and said: “Let’s make it the pace of progress toward the unification of the two Koreas."
The summit culminated in the signing of a historic declaration of peace, with both sides agreeing to work towards the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".