Cautious optimism ahead of Korea summit

Border between North and South Korea
Border between North and South Korea
By Philip Andrew Churm
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People in South Korea talk of a sense of great expectation ahead of Kim Jong-un’s visit to the country as he becomes the first North Korean leader to do so in 65 years.


At the Dora observatory in South Korea tourists gather to catch a glimpse of their neighbours north of the border.

North Korea’s border village, Kijŏng-dong, set up under the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War can clearly be seen from southern Daeseong-dong village, established at the same time.

And it’s a story of great expectations ahead of Kim Jong-un’s visit to South Korea as he becomes the first North Korean leader to do so in 65 years.

The head of Daeseong-dong village, Kim Dong-ku, says he is optimistic. “A peaceful atmosphere has been created recently, residents want to keep living here in a stable manner,” he says.


But there is a cautiousness among many South Koreans who want progress but don’t want too many concessions. 59 year-old taxi driver, You Jong-hyun said: “I do not believe that the first and second summits were held on equal footing. I was told that we (South Korea) gave the North something like money. So I hope that there won't be such underhanded dealings in this summit.”

It’s a concern which cuts across much of South Korean society. Young executive, Kim Hana, has joined with much of the international community in welcoming Kim Jong-un’s announcement that he will suspend nuclear tests but she hopes something more permanent can be agreed. “I want to live in a country where a strong security is guaranteed so that nothing threatens my life,” she says.

“And where I can live without any concern about safety and have peace of mind.”

Surveys in South Korea suggest that more than two thirds of all citizens there believe the summit, which comes after months of improving relations, will make a notable difference.

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