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Historic inter-Korean summit winds up with emotional dinner

All Headlines 22:26 April 27, 2018

PANMUNJOM/SEOUL, South Korea, April 27 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- Humming together, clinking glasses and eating dishes symbolic of reconciliation and peace, the leaders of the two Koreas bonded together at an emotional dinner reception Friday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un wound down, brimming with hopes that their summit pledges to reduce cross-border tension, halt all hostile acts and take steps for peace will never be rolled back this time.

Their starkly different accents, life experiences and age gap didn't get in the way of them forging a close rapport that South Koreans cautiously took as a foretaste of what is likely to come: "Peace and a New Start," the key theme running through the third inter-Korean summit.

Grabbing each other's hands, Moon and Kim reiterated the shared goal of entrenching peace on the Korean Peninsula that was first divided by the Cold War in 1945 and again by the devastating 1950-53 war.

"Our shoulders were heavy with a sense of historic duty, but it was a very rewarding day," Moon said, declaring that the border truce village of Panmunjom, hitherto a symbol of division, has morphed into a "birthplace of world peace."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a dinner reception with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the truce village of Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. (Yonhap)

"Chairman Kim and I had talks with all our sincerity, and we spoke the same language. ... Today, we blazed a new path that will get rid of the clouds of war on the Korean Peninsula and ensure peace, prosperity and co-existence," he added.

Kim's broad smiles may have masked his nervousness, but they highlighted his expectations for a major shift in cross-border ties that had until recently been in the freezer due to the North's continued provocations.

"This is a place where people from the South and North got together, but I can hardly distinguish who's from the South and who's from the North," Kim said.

"This is the really touching scene that reaffirms the fact that we are the one that can't be separated, and this makes my heart flutter, and I feel like it is a dream and I am happy (about it)," he added.

The encounter between South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook and North Korean first lady Ri Sol-ju appeared to be a reunion of the long-lost sisters. They embraced, exchanging hearty greetings.

The nighttime event ended with a poignant rendition of the folk song "Arirang," which struck a chord with both leaders.

South Koreans watched the marathon summit earlier in the day with bated breath, as they hoped that the historic meeting would put a long-awaited formal end to the Korean War that was halted only with a truce.

The two leaders agreed to meet again in Pyongyang this fall.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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