This Photo Of The North & South Korean Leaders Shows How Friendly The Countries Are Getting
Given that the two countries these men lead have officially been at war for nearly 68 years, a hug between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un is pretty remarkable. Just this month North Korea called off a meeting with the South over military drills that were planned by South Korea and the United States. But you'd have never guessed looking at this photo of North and South Korea's leaders. They're best buds, or at least they seem to be.
Moon even described the event with Kim as "just like an ordinary meeting between friends." Even the way that their meeting was organized — in under a day — shows that the two are becoming even closer.
In addition to the still photo, a video released by the South Korean president's staff shows the two hugging in front of the photographers. They hug three times, moving their head a different direction each time. Kim is all smiles in the video. Moon is facing away from the camera.
The last time the two met — and hugged — was in April. At the time, it was the third meeting between leaders of the two countries since the start of the war in 1950. Saturday's meeting was the fourth. The war has technically never ended. It ended in an armistice but there was no formal peace treaty.
That's what the two leaders are committed to changing. Moon was working to preserve the upcoming summit with the United States, which appeared to be canceled by Trump on Thursday only to be brought back to life on Friday. American diplomats have just crossed into North Korea to work on the preparations for the meeting, which Trump himself tweeted is likely to be June 12 in Singapore.
"We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date," the president posted on Friday.
And President Trump seems to be committed to taking credit for the connections between the Korean leaders and advancement of the denuclearization deal. After their first meeting in April, Trump told reporters he should get the credit. "When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility," Trump said. "They said there were two alternatives: Let them have what they have, or go to war. And now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible."
A Korea expert, Virginie Grzelczyk, of Aston University, told the BBC that Trump doesn't deserve the credit. "More credit should go to the South Koreans, because they actually made sure to have the North Koreans come to the Olympics and that was organized very, very quickly," Grzelczyk told the BBC. "The invitation to have the North Korean delegation and Kim Jong-un's sister … has been really critical to organize the summit that we are going to see at the end of the week."
So far, the Korean leaders aren't arguing about the credit — even though the South has tried to counteract Trump's plan to cancel the summit. After the meeting on Saturday, Moon said Kim "once again has made clear his will for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and expressed his intent to settle the history of war and confrontation, and to cooperate for peace and prosperity through the success of the North Korea-US summit."
But regardless of who organized the meetings — or deserves the credit — the photos of the two leaders is remarkable. Something you wouldn't have expected just months ago. And in another month, Trump could be joining in on the hugs.