South Koreans dare to hope of once unthinkable peace with Kim

South Koreans pray Friday in Seoul for the success of the inter-Korean summit.

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)South Koreans woke to a political reality Saturday that seemed improbable if not impossible only months ago.

In downtown Seoul, the giant smiling face of Kim Jong Un stared down at pedestrians from a billboard-sized TV screen.
Usually when the North Korean leader appears on screens in the South Korean capital, it is a sign of danger and high tensions on the Korean Peninsula: nuclear tests, missile launches, or promises of annihilation.
    But on Friday, in a moment that few had ever expected to see, Kim was talking of peace and reconciliation.
    The image of Kim shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the first meeting between leaders of the two countries in more than ten years, could be seen everywhere in Seoul again Saturday, a reminder that, yes, it really did happen.
    The two leaders "solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun."
    "There is no more war," read the headline of Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper Saturday, underneath a full-page photo of Kim and Moon, hand in hand stepping over the military demarcation line (MDL) which has separated the two countries since the end of fighting in the Korean War in 1953.
    A big screen in Seoul shows live footage of Kim and Moon's joint news conference Friday.
    The landmark deal signed by the two leaders Friday wasn't the Berlin Wall coming down -- the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Koreas remains, and there are many, many issues to solve before anything approaching reunification -- but it had something of that historical weight, and has left even the most cynical of South Koreans feeling genuinely optimistic about their country's future.

    Pent up emotion

    For generations of men and women South of the border, the war and the accompanying threats of military attack have been an ever-present fact of life.
    There are more than 3,000 bomb shelters in Seoul, every man between the ages of 18 to 35 has to serve in the military for two years, and the city plays host to tens of thousands of US troops.
    The front page of a newspaper in Seoul on Saturday.