ust hours before a summit in the border village of Panmunjom that could finally bring a lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula, optimism is breaking out all over the South.
Local governments and civic groups are busily hanging up “unification flags” that depict the Korean Peninsula in pale blue on a white background, local authorities are drawing up ambitious plans for cultural, sporting and economic exchanges and there are suggestions that more concerts by hugely popular K-pop bands from the South could take place in Pyongyang.
Cho Seung-hwan, a 51-year-old from South Jeolla Province, has just completed a barefoot run of 427 km (265 miles), signifying the April 27 date of the summit, to express his desire for a successful summit.
“Running barefoot, I felt my energy was draining away, but I wished for the peaceful unification of the two Koreas with every step that I took”, Mr Cho told The Korea Times after completing his feat at the peace park on the southern edge of the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two countries.
His dream, Mr Cho added, would be to run from the southern tip of a unified Korea to the top of the fabled Mount Paektu, on the Chinese border.
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, is due to step over the concrete blocks that mark the border at 9.30am on Friday and be greeted by Mr Moon, Seoul announced on Thursday as the final details emerged of the talks.
The two men will inspect an honour guard before entering the Freedom House on the South side of the border for a day of discussions that are expected to focus on the abolition of the North’s nuclear weapons and improving bilateral relations.
Mr Moon and Kim will plant a tree together on the demarcation line before the afternoon session in the Peace House, Im said. After they sign an agreement a joint statement will be issued.
A banquet and farewell ceremony full of symbolism will follow in the evening before Kim returns to the North.
It was also revealed on Thursday that Pyongyang's delegation will include Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, one of his closest advisers, who attended the Winter Olympics in the South in February as his envoy. The North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, who accompanied Yo Jong to the Games, will also be part of the group.
Hundreds of unification flags have been raised alongside the highway that leads north from Seoul, the route that Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, will take on Friday morning to attend the summit.
“I wish to see the leaders of the two Koreas make a definite decision and provide a historic watershed”, Lee Sun-kyung, the head of the local chapter of a group that supports reunification told Yonhap news as he hoisted more flags.
“Down the road, I hope the summit will lead to brisk inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation and, eventually, national reunification”, he added.
Flags have also been attached to buses in a number of cities and are being flown by fishing boats.
Some are warning, however, against over-optimism for an initial meeting that is likely to be merely the first step in a long and drawn-out process - and one that could still collapse, as such talks have in the past.
Some municipalities ”are coming up with too ambitious plans, such as the connection of severed inter-Korean railways and building ports and industrial parks”, the Korea Times said in an editorial on Thursday.
“Their recklessness can only weaken international sanctions against the North before it completes denuclearization.
“It is not time to fantasize about the inter-Korean thaw and float unrealistic ideas”, it added. “It would be better to make a fresh start, but with no rush to detente as Kim has yet to give up his nuclear ambitions”.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.