An event of incredible historical significance occurred Thursday evening, and a high-level official involved in the event wants to make sure the media knows who should get the credit for making it possible.
That event was the friendly and peaceful meeting of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Panmunjom peace village in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone along the border of the two countries.
CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour traveled to Seoul, South Korea, ahead of the historic summit and spoke with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha about what led to the dramatic turn of events on the peninsula.
“Clearly, credit goes to President Trump,” Kang said. “He’s been determined to come to grips with this from day one.”
“I think we’re all surprised,” Kang said of the summit between the two Koreas after decades of intense rivalry. “Obviously pleasantly surprised. I think by all indications we are headed towards a very successful summit between my president and Chairman Kim tomorrow.”
While Kang said President Moon’s quiet determination to eventually achieve peace played a role in making the talks happen, she also pointed to the tough rhetoric of President Trump, combined with enforced economic and travel sanctions on North Korea.
Despite the occasional “different messaging” from Trump and Moon — even Trump’s rhetoric has shifted from “fire and fury” to praising Kim’s “honorable” openness to denuclearization talks — Kang said that one overarching message was made abundantly clear: “At the end, the message was North Korea will not be accepted — never be accepted as a nuclear power.”
As for the meeting itself, the the two leaders first met at the border, then Kim stepped across to the south for handshakes and pictures. In a break from the plan, Kim prompted Moon to step across the border to the north for more handshakes and pictures prior to entering the conference room for the talks.