North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will inspect the South Korean military honor guard before holding a summit with President Moon Jae-in on Friday, marking the first North Korea leader to be greeted by the South Korean military.
According to Cheong Wa Dae and the Defense Ministry, the military honor guard will hold a welcoming ceremony for Moon and Kim at the South Korean territory inside the truce village of Panmunjeom.
Escorted by ceremonial guards in traditional costume, the two Korea’s leaders will inspect military guards from the Army, Navy and Air Force. The ceremony will continue until Moon and Kim enter into the Peace House, which serves as the summit venue.
“In order establish peace and build trust between the two Koreas, the Defense Ministry decided to support the ceremony as a show of respect for the two Koreas’ leaders,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
|North Korea`s late leader Kim Jong-un and former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung were greeted by the North Korean military guards during their meeting in 2000. Yonhap|
The remark came amid concerns it could be inappropriate for the North Korean leader to inspect the South Korean military. The two Koreas are still technically at war and have engaged in military provocations during the armistice period since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The government countered the criticism, saying the honor guard ceremony can be justified as a symbol of rapprochement between the two Koreas and gesture of goodwill before the historic summit.
In fact, North Korea did the same for South Korean leaders during the previous summits in 2000 and 2007. Former President Kim Dae Jung and his successor Roh Moo-hyun were greeted by the North’s military guard when they met with Kim Jung-il, father of current leader Kim Jong-un.
“Even at the height of the confrontation during the Cold War era, the United States and former Soviet Union’s honor guards held welcoming ceremonies for each other’s leaders,” the Defense Ministry said.
When former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited Washington for a summit with former US President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the two leaders were greeted by a military honor guard and received a gun salute.