WITH A few simple steps, Kim Jong-un crossed the border line, warmly greeted South Korean president Moon Jae-in and made history as the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea.
Friday’s landmark summit, which was chock-full of symbolism, saw the leaders pledge to bring “lasting peace” to the Korean peninsula with a commitment to denuclearisation and an end to decades of hostilities.
While a weary and sceptical world noted the lack of a specific timeline, as well as the long history of false starts in relation to peace between both nations, none could question that this was a big gesture of goodwill, possibly setting the stage for an even more crucial meeting between Kim and US president Donald Trump.
Such a meeting between these most combative of leaders would be a remarkable turnaround from the rhetoric of only a few months ago when Trump threatened “fire and fury” and Kim deemed the US president a “mentally deranged US dotard”.
A summit might take more time, but things are rapidly changing with Trump recently describing Kim as “very honourable” despite previously calling him “Little Rocket man” as well as the North Korean leader’s poor track record on a range of issues.
But the US is just one of many countries that will be carefully looking on at how things unfold in the wake of Friday’s event. Indeed, the entire world is anxious to see a containment of the long-standing tensions between both nations.
There has long been the view that these two countries should in truth be one. It is interesting discussions took place not around the typical rectangular table but in a room reconfigured to reflect an oval shape, meaning all were designated equals.
Still, while the event was long on theatre, it was short on details.
And there is good reason to be cautious given Kim’s record. Indeed, reports suggest the North Korean leader may have been moved to pledge an end to missile testing now that certain crucial nuclear sites in his country have been exhausted and now that he has already completed a range of provocative tests.
But the images coming out of the meeting on Friday were quite positive and have given the peninsula some space to breathe in relation to the possibility of nuclear conflict.
One hopes that now that they have met there will be greater collaboration in having people re-united with their families whom they would not have seen since the war. It is also hoped these gestures signal the start of a process which truly bringing about an end, not a scaling down, of nuclearisation. The world awaits.