Cablegate: Rok-Dprk Summit Day 1: Pageantry and Peace but No


DE RUEHUL #2990/01 2750816
O 020816Z OCT 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: President Roh walked for a few meters across
the inter-Korean border and later met Kim Jong-il outside the
House of Culture in Pyongyang, allaying the fears of some who
feared that Kim would snub his South Korean counterpart on
day one of the summit. The day's events were carried live on
ROK television. The Blue House published a statement from
Roh to "North Korean compatriots and Pyongyang citizens" on
arrival in Pyongyang that stressed the importance of
achieving peace. Roh's October 1 summit-eve speech also
mentioned the need for denuclearization. Roh was to hold a
meeting with DPRK President of the Supreme People's Assembly
(titular head of state) Kim Yong-nam in the afternoon, with
speculation about whether Kim Jong-il would attend a dinner
hosted by Kim Yong-nam. End Summary.

2. (U) Border Crossing: President Roh Moo-hyun arrived at
the Military Demarcation Line within the DMZ at 9 a.m.
Before walking across the specially-painted yellow line, Roh
said that the border had divided Koreans for too long and
that he would "work hard to pave the way for peace and
prosperity." He and First Lady Kwon Yang-sook then crossed
the line and were greeted by Vice Director of the United
Front Department, Choi Sung-Cheol, and North Hwanghae
Provincial Party Committee Chief Secretary, Choi Ryong-hae,
both said to be close to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The first couple, after shaking hands with the DPRK greeters
and posing for pictures with two North Korean women in
traditional Korean dress, proceeded by car to Pyongyang.
News reports said that ROKG officials have already erected a
stone monument to Roh's border crossing on the southern side
of the DMZ, with the inscription, "The Road to Peace and
Prosperity" in Roh's handwriting.

3. (U) Pyongyang Arrival: When he arrived in Pyongyang, Roh
met DPRK President of the Supreme People's Assembly (titular
head of state) Kim Yong-nam at the People,s Cultural Palace
and the two drove in an Mercedes limousine to the April 25
Cultural Hall. During the 20-minute drive, tens of thousands
of Pyongyang citizens shouted "hurray" and "reunification of
the fatherland" on the streets and waved identical red and
white plastic flowers at the South Korean president, who
waved back. (NOTE: In 2000, the North had also proposed to
hold an open-car street parade for former Kim Dae-jung, but
the South refused on security grounds. According to South
Korean media reports, it is rare for the DPRK to hold an
open-car street parade for a traveling foreign head of state
-- the only known precedent is the open-car street parade for
former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in September 2001. END

4. (U) Kim Jong-il Greeting: Roh and Kim Yong-nam arrived at
Pyongyang's House of Culture at 12 p.m., where Roh and First
Lady Kwon Yang-sook shook hands with Kim Jong-il, dressed in
a beige military jumpsuit. The ROK media expressed
excitement when it became clear that Kim Jong-il would indeed
greet Roh, but then noted that there was no hug, in contrast
to Kim Jong-il's effusive 2000 greeting for Kim Dae-jung.
Roh then joined Kim Jong-il in reviewing and then observing
goose-stepping North Korean Army and Navy Honor Guards and
greeting cheering North Koreans, as Kim Jong-il followed,
clapping politely. Afterward, Roh proceeded to the Paekwawon
Guest House, after which he was scheduled to meet with Kim
Yong-nam, also the host of an October 2 dinner that Kim
Jong-il may attend.

5. (U) Roh's Pyongyang comments: Upon Roh's arrival in
Pyongyang, the Blue House website released a Presidential
statement addressed to "North Korean compatriots and
Pyongyang citizens," in which Roh said that South and North
were "now walking side by side on a new path toward
and cooperation," and mentioned peace four times: "...The
most crucial thing is peace. Our painful history has
reminded us of the importance of peace. Now is the time for
the South and North to join hands to establish a new history
of peace. For the sake of peace on the Korean Peninsula, let
us not postpone what should be done and let us put into
practice what we can one by one..."

6. (U) Those remarks did not mention denuclearization, but
Roh did so in his October 1 summit-eve speech. After saying
that he intended to "concentrate on making substantive and
concrete progress that will bring about a peace settlement
together with economic development," Roh added, "The issues

of denuclearization and a peace regime on the Korean
Peninsula cannot be ultimately resolved only through an
agreement between the South and North...I will do what I can
to the best of my ability in expediting the success of the
Six-Party Talks and contributing to peace on the Korean
Peninsula and in Northeast Asia." On economic cooperation,
he said that international factors and a gap in understanding
between North and South had to be overcome to allow
accelerated economic cooperation. He added that he would try
to hammer out an agreement on building military trust and
addressing humanitarian matters.

7. (U) Editorial Reaction: October 2 editorials were in line
with those during the weeks leading up to the summit. The
progressive Hankyoreh newspaper offered cautious optimism:
"It is appropriate that Roh wants to give talking about peace
on the peninsula. Everything is at risk without a firm
peace...The two leaders need to adopt a 'peace declaration'
that expresses the intentions of both sides to create a peace
regime." In contrast, the conservative Chosum Ilbo newspaper
waved caution flags: "The problem is that it is difficult to
pursue real peace that is backed by action and not be deluded
by a deceptive peace packaged with seemingly plausible
words...Peace is not achieved by the exchange of sweet words
and flowers."

8. (SBU) Comment: South Korean commentators spent most of
the morning speculating when, if at all, Kim Jong-il would
show up. It was, therefore, a great relief when he greeted
Roh around noon at the House of Culture. In his signature
beige military jumpsuit, Kim looked healthy, though his
waist-line had expanded somewhat compared with his most
recent pictures. Yes, there is blanket TV and newspaper
coverage of the visit, but nothing like the excitement and
euphoria in connection with the first summit seven years ago.

© Scoop Media

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