DATE=6/14/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=KOREA SUMMIT / SYMBOLISM NUMBER=5-46497 BYLINE=ALISHA RYU DATELINE=HONG KONG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: South Koreans are euphoric over the unexpected warmth shown by North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong-il, during Tuesday's historic first meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. As Alisha Ryu reports from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong, the summit has South Korea hopeful there may be a continuing thaw in relations, which have been marked by more than five decades of hostilities. TEXT: Millions of South Koreans cheered Tuesday when television footage showed a smiling President Kim Dae- jung arriving in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. It was the first time that a democratic leader from the South had set foot in Communist North Korea in 55 years. For many South Koreans, the moment packed enough emotion for them to openly weep with joy. But when South Koreans saw North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally greet President Kim on the tarmac and exchange a double handed handshake, journalists on the scene say most people were simply speechless. Time Magazine's Seoul Correspondent Stella Kim: /// FIRST KIM ACT /// It was a moment of disbelief. The animosities that have been building for the past half century cannot just dissolve by some announcement of a summit. But when they actually saw two people shaking hands, and by the way, you could actually feel the warmth coming out of Kim Jong-il, and he was the first one to reach out, both arms, to greet President Kim, that was a very moving moment. /// END ACT /// Ms. Kim says South Koreans interpreted the gesture as a genuine sign of willingness to cooperate with South Korea, something North Korea had refused to do in the past. Political science professor Lee Doo-won at Yonsei University in Seoul agrees the handshake symbolized the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries, which have remained technically at war since the Korean War ended in an armed truce in 1953. /// FIRST LEE ACT /// We use double-handed handshake whenever we meet a very, very friendly friend or someone respectful and definitely, that showed the willingness of Chairman Kim Jong-il to cooperate with President Kim Dae-jung at the summit. And based on this optimism, I believe we will be able to produce some positive, visible results. /// END ACT /// Many in South Korea hope the unprecedented summit between the two leaders will lead to agreements that will open the heavily-defended border to transportation and trade, allow separated families to reunite, and promote national reconciliation. Based on Kim Jong-il's warm attitude toward the South Korean president, Professor Lee says the North Korean leader could be signaling that anything is now possible. /// SECOND LEE ACT /// Chairman Kim has expressed a lot of his emotions and intentions very frankly and in a very straight-forward manner in front of President Kim Dae-jung. You have to bear in mind that this is not just normal negotiations. This is a summit. This time, it is the leaders who are at the negotiation table. So, he himself can make any decision right on the spot. /// END ACT /// But journalist Stella Kim says many people remain skeptical about North Korea's long-term intentions because so little is known about the country and its enigmatic leader. She cautions against reading too much into what is said and done during the three-day summit. /// SECOND KIM ACT /// What we may anticipate is peaceful coexistence, formally and publicly declared, i.e., we probably will have to accept that North Korea will remain a communist country for the time being. /// END ACT /// Even President Kim Dae-jung has played down expectations for the summit. Before leaving for Pyongyang Tuesday, he said he did not expect to return with more than token concessions from the North, including a promise by Kim Jon-il to make a reciprocal visit to South Korea's capital, Seoul. But analysts say given Kim Jong-il's aversion to public events and outings, if such a visit were promised it would be a huge symbol of further warming between the two Cold War enemies. (Signed) NEB/HK/AR/JO/KBK 14-Jun-2000 07:18 AM LOC (14-Jun-2000 1118 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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