Upon stepping off the plane at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport around 10 a.m., Moon and first lady Kim Jung-sook were greeted by Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, as well as thousands of cheering North Koreans.
The leaders embraced each other three times, and exchanged smiles and handshakes, before Kim led Moon to meet some of his senior officials. They were saluted by a North Korean honor guard.
An estimated 100,000 North Koreans lined along the streets of Pyongyang as Moon and Kim rode in an open car through the city in a motorcade, according to a pool report. North Koreans chanted “Unification of homeland!” and “Welcome” while waving flower bouquets and both North Korean and Korean Unification Flags, which show the full Korean Peninsula.
|(Joint Press Corps)|
The leaders departed from the airport in separate cars, but they briefly stopped at the edge of the city to take a flower from a woman in the crowd and transfer to a single open-top black limousine for the car parade. They had a conversation in private on their way to the Paekhwawon State Guest House, where Moon and the first lady are to stay during their three-day visit.
Clean streets and high-rise buildings were spotted as the motorcade passed Ryomyong Street, a new residential district completed last year as part of Kim’s efforts to modernize the city. It has been dubbed Pyongyang’s Manhattan.
“You, Mr. President, travel all around the world, but our country is humble compared to developed nations,” Kim told Moon at Paekhwawon. “I’ve been waiting and waiting for today. The level of the accommodation and schedule we provide may be low, but it’s with our utmost sincerity and heart.”
Moon thanked Kim for his hospitality, responding, “As the spring in Panmunjom led to autumn in Pyongyang, it is time to bear fruit. I think we have a heavy burden on our shoulders, but we have built trust.”
Following the first round of talks, the South Korean first couple were treated to a performance by the Samjiyeon Orchestra at the Pyongyang Grand Theater. Afterward, Kim hosted a welcoming dinner for the South Korean delegation at the Mokran House, a banquet hall used to serve ranking North Korean officials and foreign dignitaries.
|(Joint Press Corps)|
South Korea’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan highlighted the significance of the reception that Moon received, describing it as an unprecedented level of courtesy. He cited the honor guard for Moon, the music played upon his arrival and the live broadcast of Moon entering Paekhwawon as examples.
It is the first time for Kim to host a foreign leader in Pyongyang. Moon’s visit was the first by a South Korean leader to the North Korean capital in 11 years.
By Ock Hyun-ju & Joint Press Corps (firstname.lastname@example.org)