NATIONAL

Moon, Kim may get together seven or eight times in 3 days

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 18, 2018 - 11:51
  • Updated : Sept 18, 2018 - 11:51

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began his historic three-day visit to North Korea on Tuesday with a welcome ceremony at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his top officials.

The presidential plane carrying Moon and his entourage landed at the Pyongyang airport shortly before 10 a.m. via the Yellow Sea direct flight route.

Kim greeted Moon at the airport, as his late father, Kim Jong-il, did in 2000 for then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who held the first-ever inter-Korean summit in the North's capital after taking the same Yellow Sea air route.



(AP)

In October 2007, then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun made an overland trip to the North for the second inter-Korean summit and was greeted by Kim Jong-il in front of the April 25 House of Culture in central Pyongyang.

According to officials and watchers, Moon and Kim are expected to get together seven or eight times during Moon's stay in the North, including for two rounds of summit talks, a welcome dinner, luncheon and art performances. Depending on the outcome of their talks, the two may also stand together in a joint press conference.

Following the welcome ceremony and lunch, the leaders of the two Koreas will hold their first summit talks.

In both 2000 and 2007, the leaders' meetings were held on the second day of the South Korean president's visit to the North.

Im Jong-seok, Moon's chief of staff, said in a media briefing in Seoul Monday that Moon and Kim will immediately get down to "direct and substantial" talks that include a private discussion and an expanded summit instead of going through general summit formalities.

He didn't reveal the summit venue, but watchers say the headquarters of the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, where Kim's office is located, is the most plausible location. Kim twice met with Moon's special envoys at the party headquarters this year.

In 2000 and 2007, all the summit talks were held at the Paekhwawon State Guest House.

While the leaders hold their first round of summit talks, first lady Kim Jung-sook, possibly accompanied by Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, plans to visit a children's hospital and an art college in Pyongyang.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and other South Korean businesspeople who accompanied Moon on the visit are expected to meet with the North's Deputy Prime Minister Ri Ryong-nam.

After the first-day talks, a welcoming art performance and welcome dinner will be held.

South Korean pop singers Zico and Ailee, composer Kim Hyung-suk and magician Choi Hyun-woo will participate in the art performance, along with North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra and singers.

There is a possibility of the president watching the "Brilliant Fatherland" mass gymnastics performance unveiled by the North on the occasion of its 70th founding anniversary earlier this month following the summit talks or art performance.

Due to the tight schedule, however, Moon's watching of the mass gymnastics performance could be delayed until the second day. Kim may join Moon at the May Day Stadium to watch the performance together, as the North's leader and China's special presidential envoy watched the performance together on Sept. 9.

Former President Kim Dae-jung watched an art performance at the Mansudae Art Studio in 2000, while former President Roh Moo-hyun watched the Arirang mass gymnastics performance, the predecessor of the Brilliant Fatherland mass games, in 2007.

The new gymnastics performance slated to continue until Oct. 10 is mainly designed to publicize the Pyongyang regime, but its anti-American slogans have disappeared. Instead, new content promoting the inter-Korean summit agreement has been included.

Moon is expected to stay at the Paekhwawon State Guest House together with his official attendants.

On the second day of Moon's visit, the summit talks will resume in the morning. Depending on the outcome of the talks, an inter-Korean summit agreement will be announced in the afternoon.

In this regard, Im put forward a careful stance, saying, "An agreement in the military field to ease cross-border tensions and prevent armed clashes will likely be possible, but there remain some pending issues."

If the summit talks finish before noon, Moon and his entourage are expected to have lunch at the Okryugwan Restaurant, which is famous for Pyongyang-style cold noodles, or naengmyon in Korean, and visit major facilities and landmarks in Pyongyang in the afternoon.

There is speculation that Moon may visit Pyongyang's landmark areas, like the Mirae (Future) Scientists Street or Ryomyong New Town, and industrial and tourism facilities. The construction of Mirae Scientists Street and Ryomyong New Town, full of high-rise buildings, began in the early 2010s.

The venue for the second dinner has yet to be fixed.

"On his overseas travels so far, Moon has visited diners frequented by ordinary local people. We have already asked the North to arrange a visit to a restaurant favored by Pyongyang citizens," Im explained.

Some watchers speculate the newly completed Taedong Seafood Restaurant will likely be picked as the venue for Moon's dinner.

Moon and Kim, who had a long conversation as they walked along and sat on a footbridge at the peace village of Panmunjom during their April 27 summit, may reenact a scene of closeness by sitting together at a Pyongyang restaurant, watchers say.

As a farewell dinner is scheduled for the second day, another farewell lunch will not be planned, according to Im.

Officials say many of Moon's official events in Pyongyang, including the leaders' opening summit remarks, will be broadcast live in South Korea.

After winding up his schedule in North Korea, Moon is expected to visit the main press center for the inter-Korean summit in Seoul to personally give a briefing on the results of his visit. (Yonhap)