The leaders of North and South Korea are scheduled to meet this Friday at the Demilitarized Zone on the border between the two countries. Both countries are scrambling with last minute preparations this week—but in different ways. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
Ambitions are high for this meeting; expectations more measured in some quarters.
At the high end, there are hopes for progress on denuclearization, and perhaps a peace treaty to finally and officially end the Korean War—marked merely by an armistice, a truce, in 1953.
Symbolism is already moving forward on other fronts.
South Korea has shut down its propaganda speakers which usually blast a mix of news, K-pop and other material to the North. For his part, Kim Jong-Un has praised the performance of K-pop stars sent over the border for shows.
And there will be practice for Friday’s events to take place at Panmunjeom—the “truce village” just over the border in South Korea, but still in the Demilitarized Zone.
A team from North Korea will come for rehearsal runs on Wednesday and Thursday.
North Korea’s official media is meanwhile reporting a shift in Kim Jong Un’s priorities—to “fully implement” market-oriented economic reforms. Several stocks related to cross-border business and construction soared in Seoul trading on Monday—and Friday’s talks are also a major media event.
More than 3,000 journalists are expected to register for credentials.
When Kim Jong Un crosses the border—likely Thursday afternoon Hawaii time, live coverage is planned for television in South Korea, and online around the world.