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Won’t interrupt your early morning sleep, Kim Jong Un tells South Korean president

North Korean leader Kim made history by crossing over the world's most heavily armed border to greet South Korean President Moon for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons.

world Updated: Apr 27, 2018 15:55 IST
Agencies, Goyang/Seoul
Kim Jong Un,North Korea,Moon Jae-in
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right), and South Korean President Moon Jae-in stroll together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, on April 27, 2018. (AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un assured his South Korean counterpart that he wouldn’t interrupt his sleep anymore, referring to the North’s notorious missile tests.

“... (North Korea) won’t interrupt your early morning sleep anymore,” Kim said, the Associated Press reported.

The golden doors on the stately North Korean building swung open and Kim Jong Un, in a black Mao suit and surrounded by a gaggle of officials, descended the steps towards the border.

Not since the 1950-53 Korean War had a North Korean leader set foot on South Korean soil.

With a smile, Kim stretched out his hand toward a waiting, and smiling, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who stood between the squat, blue buildings that straddle the border at Panmunjom.

The village is one of the few places where there are no high barbed wire fences or minefields between the two countries, separated by a conflict that ended with a truce, not a treaty, meaning they are still technically at war.

“I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person,” Kim said as he grasped Moon’s hand across the border.

“It was your big decision to make it here,” said Moon, dressed in a dark suit and light blue tie, who invited Kim to step over the line in the pavement, which he did.

That’s something Kim’s grandfather, the North Korean regime’s founding leader Kim Il Sung, or father Kim Jong Il, never did. The two previous summits between leaders of the Koreas, in 2000 and 2007, were in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.

Shaking hands again, Moon, 65, and Kim, 34, turned to face photographers on the North and then the South before Kim grabbed Moon’s hand and, in an unplanned move, invited him to step across the border into the North, where they stood face-to-face to talk a bit more.

Kim said he felt a “swirl of emotion” as he walked into South Korea, wondering “why it took so long” to get to this place, he told Moon later, at the start of their meeting.

The scene unfolded in simple, even run-down surroundings, where a concrete slab marks the border and paint is cracking on the low wooden huts.

The apparent warmth between the men was in stark contrast to the tension between the two countries last year amid North Korean weapons testing.

Only last September, South Korea said the North had detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, hours after Pyongyang said it had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb that possesses “great destructive power”.

Seoul, Washington and Pyongyang have been at loggerheads for months over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes, with US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un trading insults and threatening war. North Korea regularly vowed never to give up its nuclear programme, which it saw as an essential deterrent against US plans for invasion.

The United States, which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War, denies any such plans.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 15:32 IST