News

South Korea's Roh Makes Historic Border Crossing to North

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Tuesday made a historic walk across the heavily-fortified border with North Korea to attend a summit with Kim Jong Il. As VOA's Kurt Achin reports from Seoul, few details are known about the North Korean leader's welcoming plans.

South Korean officials say President Roh Moo-hyun's historic overland trip into North Korea Tuesday will not be on four tires - but on two feet.

Mr. Roh is expected to step out of his car at the military demarcation line separating North and South Korea.  After some short remarks, he plans to cross into the North on foot.  The vehicle convoy will then resume its route to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

Fifty seven years after North Korea invaded the South, the two countries remain technically at war.  A 1953 armistice stopped three years of fighting.  It is the basis for a tense détente along the heavily fortified, 248-kilometer, North-South border.

President Roh says reaching a more permanent peace is the main reason he is going to Pyongyang.

He says if the summit discussions are serious, he is willing to talk about improving military relations, a peace treaty, and even disarmament.

Mr. Roh has already said the North's nuclear weapons will receive little attention at the meeting.  He says multinational talks in Beijing are adequately addressing that issue.  Delegates to those talks are expected to reveal a draft agreement this week for dismantling the North's weapons programs by the end of the year.

Mr. Roh is not scheduled to meet Kim Jong Il on the first day of his trip.  He is to attend a welcoming luncheon with Kim Yong Nam, who presides over the North's parliament.  But, South Korean Vice Unification Minister Lee Kwan-sei points out the North's leader has a history of departing from the schedule.

He says during the 2000 summit, nothing in the formal agenda indicated Kim Jong Il would personally greet then-President Kim Dae-jung at his airport arrival.  He does not rule out the possibility Mr. Roh may receive some form of unscheduled welcome by the North's leader.

President Roh is expected to join Kim Jong Il at the North's Arirang festival.  The show's thousands of performers have historically put on a massive propaganda spectacle.  However, South Korean officials say, this time, Pyongyang is deleting references to military might and nuclear weapons.

President Roh has been under robust criticism here in South Korea, where experts point to the fact that his presidency will end in about two months.  North Korea expert Nam Sung-wook is an advisor to former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, the opposition candidate who is the overwhelming frontrunner to succeed Mr. Roh.  Nam says North Korea is eager to prevent a victory by Lee, who some expect might pursue a less accommodating policy toward the North.

Nam says North Korea has rejected countless offers of a summit, but has decided to accept now just months before a presidential election.  He dismisses the summit as a performance aimed at influencing South Korean politics.  

President Roh and his political allies have supported a minimally critical and generous policy of engagement with the North, which has resulted in the transfer of billions of dollars in aid and investment to Pyongyang.

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs