[SUMMIT] Moon and Kim make joint journey up to sacred mountain

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-09-20 10:27 Updated : 2018-09-20 17:20
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Joint Press Corps]


SEOUL -- South and North Korean leaders wearing winter coats raised their hands together atop a volcanic mountain in a journey that underscored their determination to end decades of hostilities and usher in a new era of peace and rapprochement on the divided Korean peninsula.

"My wish has come true," South Korean President Moon Jae-in enthused about his joint trip with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the 2,744-meter peak of Mount Paekdu.
For a memorial picture, the two leaders raised each other's hand, drawing applause from South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook and her North Korean counterpart Ri Sol-ju.

"The first step has now been taken. If this step is repeated, more people will come. I believe there will come a time when ordinary South Koreans can make sightseeing trips to Mount Paekdu," Moon said.

Kim promised to write a new history, saying South Koreans would be allowed to visit the mountain freely in the future. "Today, a small number of people came here, but in the future, South Koreans and overseas Koreans should come and see Mount Paekdu."

The leaders and their wives walked down to Chonji (heaven lake), a crater lake which lies within a caldera atop the mountain.

Paekdu, the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula, is revered as a sacred place where an ancient Korean kingdom originated. North Korea's propaganda claims Kim Jong-un's late father, Kim Jong-il, was born near Chonji.

The joint trip to Paekdu, which sits on the border between North Korean and China, marked the finale of Moon's three-day visit to North Korea. South Korean officials said the unscheduled journey was proposed by Kim because Moon has expressed his hope to walk up the mountain from North Korea.

Tens of thousands of citizens waving flags and chanting "Homeland unification!" lined the streets as Moon's motorcade left a state guest house. After a farewell ceremony attended by North Korean officials and citizens at an airport in Pyongyang, Moon's entourage arrived in the Samjiyon airport near the mountain.

In Samjiyon, Kim came first to lead another colorful ceremony before the two leaders embarked on a joint excursion up to the peak, using vehicles and a cable car. Moon returned home from Samjiyon.