As the April 27 summit between South Korea and North Korea begins, Seoul has maintained its poise. Though U.S. officials like National Security Adviser John Bolton have expressed an impatience for North Korea’s total, unilateral denuclearization, South Korean President Moon Jae In recently cautioned his aides against “an excessive eagerness to try to fix all problems at once.”
The summit, which is taking place on the South Korean side of the joint security area in Panmunjom, the iconic village straddling the border between North and South Korea, will be the first meeting between the two countries’ leaders since 2007. In October of that year, then-South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun crossed the military line of demarcation on foot into North Korea, where he was greeted by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. This Friday, Kim Jong Un, his son, will cross the border to the South. Local media is reporting that he and South Korean president Moon Jae In will plant a commemorative tree by a path near the border, sprinkling it with water taken from North Korea’s Taedong and South Korea’s Han rivers. After lunch, the two leaders will go for a leisurely walk and exchange small talk along one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders, before resuming the negotiations.