Kim Jong-un becomes first North Korean leader to cross into South in 65 years - live updates

Nicola Smith
The Telegraph

The leaders of North and South Korea concluded their first round of negotiations midway through talks on Friday after two hours of small talk, jokes and pledges to work together to bring long-term peace to the peninsula and make the world a safer place.

Kim Jong-un, regarded last year as an international pariah after conducting his sixth nuclear test, promised a “new beginning” and hailed a new era of peace. South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged “bold” decisions that would be a “great gift” to humanity.

When they broke for lunch a few hours later, the South said the two leaders had so far discussed "denuclearisation and a permanent peace" - but there were no further details.

Their historic meeting began at 9.30am local time as Kim emerged from the Panmungak, the North's symbolic building 80m north of border, with a large entourage including his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, sweeping down the wide staircase to make his way to the Military Demarcation Line that separates the two countries, where President Moon Jae-in waited to greet him.

Kim Jong-un holds historic summit with South Korean president - in pictures
Kim Jong-un holds historic summit with South Korean president - in pictures

With wide grins, the two men shook hands as they met for the first time, and Kim became the first North Korean leader to cross over to the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone since the Korean War ended in 1953 .

“You have come to the South, when will I be able to come to the North?” asked Mr Moon.

“Maybe now is the right time for you to enter North Korean territory?” quipped Kim, and in an unscripted move, the two men held hands as the stepped back over the divide into the North.

Korea summit | Read more
Korea summit | Read more

The images, broadcast live around the world, were highly emotional for the divided Korean peninsula, which never formally ended the Korean War of 1950-53. In a vast press room a few miles from the location of the talks in Panmunjom, South Korean journalists gasped and applauded.

The meeting of the two leaders was only the third in the history of the two nations, and it has raised hopes of finding an eventual solution to international tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missiles programmes.

In a guestbook at the Peace House summit venue, Kim wrote: "A new history begins now - at the starting point of history and the era of peace." 

The reclusive Kim, 34, appeared nervous at first as he met Mr Moon and accompanied him along a red carpet to inspect an honour guard.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk across the military demarcation line</span> <span>Credit: Koreas Summit </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk across the military demarcation line Credit: Koreas Summit

But he later relaxed, quipping that he hoped Mr Moon would enjoy the cold noodles speciality he had brought from the North and promising that he would no longer interrupt the South Korean president’s sleep with early morning missile tests.

Kim was "flooded with emotion", he told Mr Moon as their talks began in a grand meeting room in the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom on the southern size of the demilitarised border zone.

"I feel like I'm firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of (the two Koreas) writing a new history in North-South relations, peace and prosperity," Kim told Moon as they sat at a table, which had been built so that exactly 2018 millimeters separated them, to begin their closed-door talks. He urged “candid” and “future-orientated” talks.

“I’m so filled with excitement because of the meeting at this historic site. And I was truly moved that you have come all the way to receive me at the Military Demarcation Line,” he told President Moon.

<span>Kim Jong-un's message in the guest book: 'A new history begins now - at the starting point of history and the era of peace'</span> <span>Credit: Getty </span>
Kim Jong-un's message in the guest book: 'A new history begins now - at the starting point of history and the era of peace' Credit: Getty

Mr Moon responded that “It was your bold and courageous decision that has allowed us to come this far.”

After two hours of private talks, Kim’s security convoy left to take a lunchbreak in the North, with twelve guards jogging alongside his black Mercedes limousine.

A spokesman from Seoul’s presidential office briefed reporters that their interactions had been amiable, with Kim expressing his admiration for the South’s high speed rail, and Mr Moon making Kim Yo-jong “blush” when he said she was now a celebrity.

"The two leaders had a sincere and frank dialogue over the denuclearisation and the establishment of permanent peace of the Korean peninsula and development of inter-Korea ties," Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman added.

<span>South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom Credit: Reuters

The meeting was also replete with grandiose statements of intent. “We should value this opportunity so that the scars between the South and North could be healed,” Kim was quoted as saying. “The border line isn’t that high; it will eventually be erased if a lot of people pass over it.”

But as the talks prepare to resume, little has been revealed of actual progress towards resolving one of the world’s most pressing security threats.

9:29AM

Latest news

Get the latest Telegraph coverage on the Korea summit here

8:15AM

The picture that tells a thousand words

There has been a lot of emphasis on the unscripted moment Kim took Mr Moon's hand and led him across the border to North Korea. The highly symbolic - and unplanned - moment is likely to have raised the blood pressure of security on both sides. But it made for this memorable picture.

 

7:53AM

Break in proceedings

The summit will not officially resume until 4.30pm (8.30am  GMT), a South Korean presidential spokesman has announced. It will begin with the ceremonial planting of a pine tree using soil and water from both countries, to symbolise "peace and prosperity”, and the two leaders will then walk across a footbridge over the official border line.

The next round of talks will be concluded with the signing of a joint declaration, the content of which is still being thrashed out.

At 6.30pm (10.30am GMT), a lavish banquet attended by Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju and Mr Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook will be preceded by a musical extravaganza featuring stringed instruments and songs from both North and South.

The songs will include a rendition of From Seoul to Pyongyang, about the reunification of the peninsula.

6:59AM

North and South 'discussed denuclearisation and permanent peace'

After the first round of talks, Mr Moon's spokesman has revealed that the two leaders have discussed denuclearisation and a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula.

"The two leaders had a sincere and frank dialogue over the denuclearisation and the establishment of permanent peace of the Korean peninsula and development of inter-Korea ties," said Yoon Young-chan.

The leaders are expected to continue negotiations after their break for lunch on their respective sides of the border, before they dine together at a banquet on the southern side later this evening.

Mr Yoon has also confirmed that Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, will come to Panmunjom at 6.15pm for the official banquet.

We have more on the rise Ms Ri, from cheerleader to North Korea's 'first lady' here

6:26AM

Activists burn North Korean flags 

South Korean conservative activists have set fire to North Korean flags during a rally against the summit talks between the leaders of the two Koreas, AP reports.

Hundreds of activists gathered near the border village of Panmunjom to protest against the talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

They set on fire two paper North Korean flags with the images of Kim and his late father and grandfather.

They also chanted slogans including "Step down, Moon Jae-in!"

<span>A conservative activist prepares to display partially burnt images of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung (L), Kim Jong Il&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
A conservative activist prepares to display partially burnt images of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung (L), Kim Jong Il  Credit: AFP

 

5:41AM

Honour guard outrage

The decision to greet Kim Jong-un with an honour guard after he stepped across the border into South Korea has been condemned by conservatives, who have described it as a “humiliation” to service personnel who are protecting the nation. 

The honour guard was made up of representatives of the three branches of the military, army, navy and air force. Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, is a former member of the special forces and saluted as he inspected the guard. Mr Kim, however, looked straight ahead as he walked along the red carpet. 

<span>North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (L) walks with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (R) past a guard of honour</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (L) walks with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (R) past a guard of honour Credit: AFP

Conservatives began a petition on the website of the Blue House against the decision even before Mr Kim crossed the border, quickly attracting more than 1,000 signatures. 

“The event will not enhance the morale of South Korean soldiers”, one signatory said in a comment, according to The Korea Times. 

"The decision is a humiliation to 600,000 South Korean soldiers who serve their military duty to protect the South from possible attack by the regime”.

"It is absurd for the South Korean military to hold an honour guard for a third-generation dictator of the regime at a time when soldiers from the South carry out military operations to fight against North Korea", the poster added.

5:03AM

Kim 'willing to go to the Blue House any time'

Kim Jong-un and President Moon mixed small talk with grand statements about working together to make the world a better place in their introductory remarks, according to Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary of communication in the South’s presidential office.

Mr Yoon confirmed that Mr Moon’s decision to step north of the border, while holding hands with Kim, had been entirely unplanned, and offered a read-out of their comments to each other, writes Nicola Smith.

“You have come to the South, when I will be able to come to the North?” Mr Moon asked as he first shook hands with Kim across the ten centimetre high concrete block marking the Military Demarcation Line along the border.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suggests Mr Moon crosses into the North</span> <span>Credit: Bloomberg </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suggests Mr Moon crosses into the North Credit: Bloomberg

“Maybe now is the right time for you to enter North Korean territory?” quipped Kim, and Mr Moon stepped across.

As they watched a short performance by a military guard, Kim added that he would like to see the full version, and would be “willing to go to the Blue House any time”, referring to the presidential palace in Seoul.

The two leaders then took part in a spontaneous photo-op with their entire delegations before heading into the Peace House to talk about specially chosen paintings of South and North Korean scenery that depicted communication between both sides.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, shanks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, shanks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom  Credit: AP

Kim thanked Mr Moon for the detailed thought that had been put into greeting him.

The two leaders indulged in small talk about their journeys to the border, and Kim appeared to be relaxed after initially looking nervous as he cross the border on live TV.

He teased Mr Moon about his sleeping habits, saying he had heard that he had a habit of waking up early. “I will make sure that I won’t wake you up early,” he said, in a light-hearted reference to his notoriously early missile tests of the past.

Taking a more serious tone, he commented on the suitability of their meeting place, which had been a “place of conflict”, adding that he hoped they could “heal the pain” of division. Improvements would come “if we hold our hands together and deal with things together,” he told Mr Moon.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Credit: AP

“Let’s meet often and determine ourselves to never go back to the start. Let’s create a better world for everyone,” said Kim. “We come here to put an end to confrontation. We are here together to come up with a good solution.”

The South Korean president expressed his hope that his government could keep up with the pace of diplomacy, and also his wish to see the North’s Mount Paektu some day.

He offered his condolences about the train crash that killed dozens of Chinese tourists earlier this week, and also made Kim’s younger sister blush by telling her she was now a celebrity in the South.

4:40AM

Details emerge of moment Moon crossed into North briefly

4:06AM

You have to be fit to be one of Kim's bodyguards

The Guard Command, the military unit tasked with ensuring the safety of the leadership, is an elite institution close to the centre of North Korean power - it provides the centrepiece display of the annual kimjongilia and kimilsungia flower festivals in Pyongyang to honour Kim's father and grandfather.

Ri Yong-guk, a defector from the North who served on a security detail for Kim Jong-il, wrote in a 2013 memoir that as many as six different layers of security guards protected the leader on trips to the countryside to inspect military units, plants or farms.

"It is one of the world's tightest security blankets through which even a single ant would find it hard to go," he wrote.

4:03AM

Lunch break

That's the morning session of talks over. Kim Jong-un is heading back across the border for lunch before returning for a second round of talks in the afternoon.

3:34AM

Going home?

A North Korean woman who claims to have “mistakenly” defected to South Korea in 2011 says she hopes the summit between the two nations’ leaders may enable her to return to Pyongyang before the end of the year, writes Julian Ryall.  

“I was so nervous counting the days to the summit,” Kim Ryon-hui said in an interview with The Korea Herald. “I believe I will be able to go back to Pyongyang within this year, maybe in June. 

“Is my anticipation too high?” she asked. 

Ms Kim was a dressmaker in North Korea and has claimed that she was talked into travelling to South Korea by a Chinese smuggler who said she would be able to make a large amount of money in a short period of time and then return to the North. 

Under South Korean law, however, it is illegal for citizens to travel to the North and Ms Kim’s requests to be repatriated have all been refused. 

3:25AM

Kim's sister in the spotlight

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has given his younger sister a place at the negotiating table for the first North-South Korea summit in more than a decade.

Kim Yo-jong has emerged as the most visible member of the regime after her brother - since she became the first member of the ruling North Korean family to travel to the South in early February for the Olympics.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, walks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his sister Kim Yo-jong </span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, walks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his sister Kim Yo-jong Credit: AP

She was in Kim's delegation as he walked across the line that divides the two Koreas on Friday morning and took a seat beside him as he started his first round of talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The only other North Korean official present was former intelligence chief Kim Yong-chol, the top official in charge of relations with the South.

Read more about Kim's sister  

2:59AM

North Koreans left in the dark

If you're wondering whether North Koreans are glued to their screens watching these historic developments unfold ... they're not. 

2:47AM

'I hope for ...  bold agreement'

South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Kim Jong-un that he hoped to see a "bold agreement" as they began their summit on Friday.

"I hope we engage in frank talks and reach a bold agreement so that we may give a big gift to the whole Korean people and the people who want peace," Moon said.

2:36AM

'Candid talks for good results'

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in’s opening comments have been broadcast live from the meeting room at the Peace House where they will conduct talks, writes Nicola Smith.

Kim spoke first, on the optimistic note that “this is a starting point for us, I believe we’ll make a new beginning.” He urged “candid talks for good results” that would be “future-orientated”, adding, “I hope we don’t go back to square one.”

He also expressed hope that President Moon would enjoy the cold Pyongyang noodles that would be served at this evening’s banquet.

<span>South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attend the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attend the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom Credit: Reuters

President Moon replied that he felt “really good” about the day ahead but noted that “we have a huge burden on our shoulders” and “huge expectations” ahead.

He praised Kim for his “courageous and bold decision” to come to the talks. “Why don’t we make bold and courageous decisions to amicably talk about peace,” he said.

2:29AM

'Great expectations'

Kim Jong-un has kicked off the talks expressing hope of some agreements. 

 On a lighter note, he also joked about how far the cold noodles have had to come today.

2:25AM

The surprise moment

2:24AM

Talks have begun

 As talks get under way, here's the scene inside the room. Sat to the left of Kim Jong-un is his sister, Kim Yo-jong.

2:18AM

US hopeful ahead of talks

The United States is hopeful the talks between the two Korean leaders will make progress on achieving peace and prosperity.

In a statement, the White House said it looked forward to continuing discussions with South Korea in preparation for the planned meeting of President Donald Trump and Kim in the coming weeks.

On the occasion of Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we wish the Korean people well. We are hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula.  The United States appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea, and looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.

2:04AM

'A new history begins'

Kim Jong-un has signed the guestbook with a message of peace, saying a "new history begins now ....the age of peace".

2:02AM

Where's Kim Yo-jong?

North Korean watchers have been pouring over the images emerging, scrutinising every detail. 

Kim's sister Kim Yo-jong stayed away from the spotlight, but stayed in the background.

She also handed the pen to Kim to sign the guestbook.

 Some speculated that Kim Jong-un appeared nervous.

 The two leaders also posed for photos beside a painting of the Bukhansan mountain in Seoul.

1:55AM

Hopes high for summit

Abraham M Denmark, director of the Asia programme at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in DC, says  the summit could produce "an ambitious and very positive outcome".

After much pomp and fanfare, the two leaders appear to have gone into the room for talks.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a welcome ceremony at the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a welcome ceremony at the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom Credit: Reuters
<span>The two leaders take part in the red carpet ceremony at the DMZ</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
The two leaders take part in the red carpet ceremony at the DMZ Credit: Reuters

 

1:52AM

Kim goes off script

There has already one moment that was unplanned. After crossing into the South, Kim Jong-un invited Mr Moon Moon to cross back over the demarcation line to the North side to shake hands again - an unscripted moment in an otherwise highly choreographed display.

<span>North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk across the military demarcation line ahead of the inter-Korean summit</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk across the military demarcation line ahead of the inter-Korean summit Credit: Reuters

1:40AM

View from the press room

Nicola Smith, the Telegraph's Asia correspondent, is in the press room for the summit.

1:32AM

The historic handshake

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in have finally met. 

The Korean leaders smiled broadly as Kim walked across the border and shook Mr Moon's hand. 

1:29AM

Kim Jong-un arrives at border

 

1:22AM

'Big gamble, huge stakes'

It's hard to know what to expect from today in the way of results. But there's a sense among experts that we could see some real progress.

Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia programme at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in DC, says it's "pretty exciting".

"Possibility of fundamentally changing East Asia forever. Big gamble, huge stakes, happening right before our eyes."

<span>South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives for the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, in this still frame taken from video</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives for the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, in this still frame taken from video Credit: Reuters

 

1:17AM

Moon arrives

South Korean television shows that President Moon Jae-in has arrived at Panmunjom.

1:08AM

Red carpet awaits the leaders

The scene has been set at the DMZ. 

 And for a more in depth look at the venue, have a read of this.

Inside Panmunjom the DMZ truce village - Korea
Inside Panmunjom the DMZ truce village - Korea

1:01AM

Leaders on their way to the border

We're about half an away from Kim's arrival at the border. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has left Seoul's presidential palace for the high-stakes summit.

Mr Moon briefly stepped out of his black limousine and cheerfully shook hands with hundreds of supporters who waved white South Korean flags and raised banners with messages including "Please Achieve Successful Denuclearization."

Hundreds of members of the Korean Veterans Association arrived on buses from different parts of the nation hours earlier to send off Moon's motorcade.

<span>A convoy transporting South Korean President Moon Jae-in leaves the Presidential Blue House for the inter-Korean summit in Seoul</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
A convoy transporting South Korean President Moon Jae-in leaves the Presidential Blue House for the inter-Korean summit in Seoul Credit: Reuters

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