Updated: Apr 28, 2018
Kim Jong Un on Friday stepped across the border into South Korea for a day of talks that began and ended with him holding hands with Moon Jae-in.
In an astonishing turn of events, a beaming Kim on Friday stepped across the border into South Korea for a day of talks that began and ended with him holding hands with Southern President Moon Jae-in.
They talked, they joked, they walked, they ate, and, when they signed a joint statement pledging to work toward their "common goal" of denuclearizing their peninsula, they hugged.
"Today we saw Kim Jong Un's charm offensive in action," said Duyeon Kim, a visiting fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in #Seoul. "He's exerting his influence and trying to grab the spotlight with a big smile. But behind that smile, he was wearing his game face," she said.
Indeed, with Friday's historic summit and the bold, if vague, pledge to discuss giving up his nuclear program, Kim is trying to rewrite the public narrative about him and ease some of the outside pressure on him.
"Good things are happening, but only time will tell!" Trump, who has championed a "maximum pressure" campaign against Kim, tweeted early Friday morning in Washington.
The warmth of the meeting and the positive images beamed onto TV screens across the globe have set the stage for Kim to meet with Trump at the end of May or early June. The former reality TV host has said he will go to the talks only if they promise to be "fruitful," a bar that likely was met with Friday's meetings.
Kim and Moon Friday signed a three-page "Panmunjom Declaration," named after the truce village in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas where it was forged, stating that "South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula."
"South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," it said.
But the agreement was short on details, and the phrase "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula" will ring alarm bells in Washington because it implies that nuclear weapons will not be allowed in South Korea, either.