Seoul to mark summit anniversary, with or without North

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a parade in Pyongyang last September. Seoul will celebrate the anniversary of last year's inter-Korean summit on Saturday at Panmunjom, where the summit was held, but wh
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a parade in Pyongyang last September. Seoul will celebrate the anniversary of last year's inter-Korean summit on Saturday at Panmunjom, where the summit was held, but whether Pyongyang would attend remained unclear.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • South Korea will this week celebrate the first anniversary of a landmark summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - but Pyongyang may not take part, Seoul said yesterday.

The pair held their first meeting on April 27 last year in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the peninsula, amid a rapid diplomatic thaw, paving the way for a historic summit between Mr Kim and United States President Donald Trump in Singapore last June.

But one year later, little progress has been made on North Korea's denuclearisation, with Pyongyang and Washington deadlocked since a second summit in February between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Hanoi broke down without a deal.

Mr Moon, who brokered the first meeting between the two mercurial leaders, has tried to salvage the diplomacy although the North has remained largely unresponsive.

Since Hanoi, the North has not attended any of the regular weekly meetings of the heads of their joint liaison office in Kaesong, and has not taken part in other joint projects, such as excavations in the DMZ.

Seoul will hold a ceremony on Saturday at Panmunjom - where Mr Moon and Mr Kim exchanged warm smiles and brotherly hugs - the Unification Ministry said, but whether Pyongyang would attend remained unclear.

"Our side notified (the North) about the April 27 anniversary ceremony" yesterday, the ministry said without giving further details.

Mr Moon and Mr Kim met three times last year - including a second impromptu encounter after Mr Trump threatened to cancel the Singapore summit just weeks before it was due. But exchanges between Seoul and Pyongyang have significantly decreased since the failure to reach agreement in Hanoi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'Seoul to mark summit anniversary, with or without North'. Print Edition | Subscribe