Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong Un shake hands at border

This graphic image shows U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

In a surreal moment for Korea watchers, Kim stepped across the military demarcation line into South Korea and shook his southern counterpart's hand - something that would have been nearly unthinkable just a few months ago.

TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic has more.

The two leaders received bouquets of flowers from a boy and a girl and then walked together on a red carpet behind a military band clad in traditional costumes. An armistice signed in 1953 halted the actual fighting, but the two countries are still technically at war.

Official dialogue between Kim and Moon will begin at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) at the Peace House in Panmunjom, an hour after Kim is scheduled the cross the border at 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT). Optimists believe it could open the prospect of a peace agreement to formally end the Korean war and start a process leading to denuclearisation on the peninsula.

"We have had false dawns before on the Korean peninsula", he told reporters in Perth.

Kim said he'd visit Seoul's presidential Blue House if invited.

"First is a commitment to improve inter-Korean relations".

Fred and Cindy Warmbier have filed a lawsuit against the country of North Korea over the death of their son, Otto. Scenes of Moon and Kim joking and walking together marked a striking contrast to last year's barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping worldwide sanctions and fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula. After the games, a group of South Korean pop singers flew to North Korea, where they performed and shook hands with Kim.

Despite skepticism about Kim's sincerity, this is the first time he has offered to negotiate over his nuclear weapons since taking office in late 2011.

Kim and Mr Moon met two children from Daeseong-dong, the South Korean village inside the demilitarised zone. Im Jong-seok, Moon's chief of staff, sat in front of Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party, and Suh Hoon, director of National Intelligence Service, sat in front of Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister.

The White House released two photographs of then Secretary of State-designate and Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo's meeting with Kim in North Korea over the Easter weekend to discuss the planned summit.

All cooperation projects initiated after the two previous summits, in 2000 and 2007, were stalled as two back-to-back South Korean conservative presidents took a harder line on North Korea's advancing nuclear program.

The White House said in a statement that it hoped the summit would it would "achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula".

"The US appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea and looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks".

Friday's summit will indicate if peaceful negotiations to remove North Korea's weapons are possible.

Reunions of families left divided by the war could also be discussed at the summit, and Moon has told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he will raise the emotive subject of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North.

With the North's atomic arsenal high on the agenda, Moon responded that he hoped they would reach "a bold agreement so that we may give a big gift to the whole Korean people and the people who want peace".

What will they talk about?

Kim did not make any direct mention of the North Korean nuclear issue in the part of his talks with Moon that were shown on live television. "Very, very quiet." Trump did not mention any topics discussed during the meeting, but it was previously reported that Pompeo raised the issue of three Americans who are now imprisoned in North Korea.

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