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[2018 Inter-Korean summit] Ceremonies add sentiment to summit

The leaders of the two Koreas on Friday jointly participated in special events embodying hopes of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, which laced the summit with sentiment of a thaw in inter-Korean relations.

An array of ceremonies, mostly reflecting the traditional Korean culture or integration of elements of the divided Koreas, were scheduled for throughout the day. 

(Cheong Wa Dae)
(Cheong Wa Dae)

After Kim crossed the border, the traditional folk tune of “Arirang” kicked off the first ceremony of the day as Moon and Kim inspected a South Korean honor guard.

Kim then proceeded to greet the South Korean summit delegation which was followed by Moon’s exchange of handshakes with the North Korean officials. An impromptu photo session involving both leaders and members of delegations was held after the exchange.

At 4:30 p.m., South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were scheduled to plant a pine tree on the military demarcation line, bisecting the two Koreas, according to Cheong Wa Dae. The selected tree was germinated in 1953, the same year the armistice agreement was signed which ended the 1950-53 Korean War. 

(Cheong Wa Dae)
(Cheong Wa Dae)

The ceremony was carried out upon South Korea’s request, which was accepted by the North.

Soil collected from the South’s Hallasan on Jeju and the North’s Baekdusan, which are the highest mountains in the two countries, was used according to Cheong Wa Dae. Kim was to pour water from the Han River of the South, while Moon mirrored the move with water from the North’s Daedong River.

A stone, inscribed with the names of the two leaders coupled with the phrase, “Plant peace and prosperity” was to be installed in front of the tree, Cheong Wa Dae added.

A similar event was held at the 2007 summit in Pyongyang when then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun crossed the border to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. But it was Kim Yong-nam, the North‘s nominal head of state, who jointly planted the tree instead of Kim Jong-il.

The pine tree will be planted near the road used when late founder of Hyundai Group Chung Ju-yung led truckloads of 500 cows to the North in the late 1990s. North Korea was believed to be suffering from severe famine at the time.

Due to its symbolic significance, Panmunjeom has often served as venue for cross-border events symbolizing a thaw between the divided Koreas.

Before wrapping-up the day, the two leaders were to attend a banquet held at the Peace House located in the South’s side of Panmunjeom. Kim Jong-un’s wife Ri Sol-ju was expected to accompany the North Korean leader to the dinner, as Cheong Wa Dae confirmed in the afternoon that Ri would arrive at the border at 6:15 p.m. South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook was expected to join Moon as well.

By Jung Min-kyung (