In Historic Summit, Kim Jong Un to Cross Border Into South Korea on Foot to Discuss Nuclear Program

Kim will become the first North Korean leader to visit the southern section of the border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War

In a photo taken on June 2, 2017 Korean People's Army (KPA) soldier Lieutenant Kim poses for a portrait before the military demarcation line at the truce village of Panmunjom within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27 will have a historic summit with the South's president Moon Jae-in -- a major setpiece of the diplomatic whirlwind over the flashpoint peninsula as the young leader prepares for a highly-anticipated meeting with Donald Trump. 
 / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES / To go with SKorea-NKorea-politics-diplomacy, ADVANCER by Jung Hawon
ED JONES/AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon-Jae-in will plant a commemorative tree and inspect an honor guard together after Kim walks across the border Friday for a historic summit, Seoul officials said Thursday.

The talks on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom are expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear program, but there is plenty of symbolism in Kim expecting to become the first North Korean leader to visit the southern section of the border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon will receive Kim Friday morning after he crosses the concrete slabs that form the rivals' military demarcation line. They will then walk together for about 10 minutes to a plaza where they'll inspect a South Korean honor guard, Moon's chief of staff Im Jong-seok, reporters said.

Buddhist monks put their hands together to wish for a successful inter-Korean summit at the Jogye temple in Seoul, April 26, 2018.
Lee Jin-man/AP

After signing the guestbook and taking a photo together at Peace House, the venue for Friday's summit, the two leaders will start formal talks at 10:30 A.M. (0130 GMT). They will later plant a pine tree on the border using a mixture of soil from both counties' mountains and water from their respective rivers. The tree, which is beloved by both Koreas, dates to 1953, the year the war ended, Im said.

Engraved on the stone plaque for the tree will be the phrase, "Peace and Prosperity Are Planted," as well as the signatures of the leaders. After the tree-planting, the two plan to stroll together to a footbridge, where a signpost for the military demarcation line stands, Im said.

The leaders will meet again in the afternoon and later attend a banquet, Im said.

Im said Kim is to be accompanied by nine top North Korean officials, including his influential sister, Kim Yo Jong. Im said South Korea hopes Kim's wife, Ri Sol Ju, will attend parts of Friday's summit, but Ri's attendance hasn't been confirmed yet.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on April 20, 2018.
REUTERS

It's also not clear how the leaders will announce the results of the summit. The most difficult part, Im said, centers on North Korea's level of denuclearization commitment.

Friday's summit and Kim's planned meeting with President Donald Trump in May or early June were arranged after Kim recently expressed a wiliness to put his nuclear program up for negotiation after a year of nuclear and missile tests.