South Korea to mark summit anniversary, with or without North

PHOTO: Reuters

SEOUL - South Korea will celebrate the first anniversary of a landmark summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week - but Pyongyang may not take part, Seoul said on Monday (April 22).

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 in June.

But one year later, little progress has been made on North Korea's denuclearisation, with Pyongyang and Washington deadlocked since a second summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Hanoi in February 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 eight 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 Pyongyang's attendance remained unclear.

"When we notify the North (about the event), we will provide additional details," ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min told reporters.

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.

Mr Kim slammed the South in a speech to his country's rubber stamp legislature earlier this month, saying it should not "pose as a meddlesome 'mediator' and 'facilitator'" between the US and the North.