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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 19)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:04 September 19, 2018

Moon in Pyongyang
President given wholehearted welcome in North Korea

President Moon Jae-in arrived in Pyongyang, Tuesday for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. During their first summit, April 27, Kim had promised Moon a huge welcome upon his visit to Pyongyang in the fall. Kim kept his word by showing up at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang with his wife Ri Sol-ju. North Korea's enthusiastic reception of President Moon was reminiscent of the first inter-Korea summit in 2000 between the incumbent leader's father Kim Jong-il and late former President Kim Dae-jung.

The first day of President Moon's trip to Pyongyang was filled with some unique moments. During a welcoming ceremony, the commander of a military honor guard addressed Moon as "Your Excellency." Upon Moon's landing, the two shared a friendly embrace, reflecting an unprecedented level of trust between the leaders of the two Koreas established through multiple meetings. They have already met three times this year, showing it is possible for the leaders of the two Koreas to meet frequently. In May, they met for the second time after U.S. President Donald Trump had publicly canceled a planned summit with Kim in Singapore.

During a media briefing after Moon's arrival, Yoon Young-chan, senior presidential secretary for public communications, said this was Kim's first time to host a summit in Pyongyang. Kim has previously participated in summits in Singapore and China, but has never held a summit in the North Korea capital. Another rare sight was the presence of the North Korean first lady to greet the South Korean President and his wife. Kim Jong-il had met South Korean presidents by himself during previous summits. Cheong Wa Dae explained that by diplomatic protocol, it is very rare for a first couple to appear together at the airport to greet a visiting head of state.

It should also be noted that the summit was held in the headquarters of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party. This is also a huge departure from inter-Korean summits during previous administrations as they were held at the state guest house of Paekhwawon.

There is a lot riding on this trip. The international community is expecting Moon to act as a mediator to resume denuclearization talks between North Korea and the U.S. There is a limit to what can be achieved with a couple of meetings, but Moon's trip will be considered a success if it can set the conditions for denuclearization talks to move forward. For this, Kim must show his full commitment to dismantling his nuclear and missile programs during his talks with Moon.

Regardless of the outcome of the summit, the two leaders have already achieved the unthinkable by showing the world they can meet often like old friends. The peoples of the two Koreas are hoping that the growing trust between the two leaders will contribute to building lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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