The leaders of North and South Korea made history Friday, shaking hands on the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone separating the two countries in the first such summit in more than a decade.
The meeting, which comes after more than five years of missile tests and threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, embodied a strikingly different tone as the leaders discussed prospects for peace.
According to CNBC, Recent weeks have seen a distinct softening in tone from the government of the northern rogue state, which has been under international sanctions for years over its ballistic missile tests, nuclear weapons development and human rights abuses. An opening of bilateral relations and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula were the primary topics at hand.
CNN reports that Kim addressed the international media on Friday, declaring that the two Koreas are one united people who should work together toward reunification.
“We are not a people that should be confronting each other … we should be living in unity,” Kim said. “We have long waited for this moment to happen. All of us.”
Kim did not appear to mention denuclearization in his speech, though Moon said both sides agreed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“The road I have used today, I sincerely hope every South and North Korean citizen can use this road,” Kim said. “We will be able to enjoy peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula without having to fear the war.”
The presidents can be seen smiling and walking together, ahead of talks during which South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In hoped to convince Kim “to adopt a joint statement on the denuclearization of North Korea,” according to one of Moon’s advisors.
Moon was elected president in 2017 on a promise of improving relations with the North, which have been hostile since the Korean War that began in 1950 and saw well over 1 million people killed.
North and South Korea have technically still been at war since then, as cessation of fighting was only enabled by an armistice signed in 1953 rather than a peace agreement.