DMZ: Donald Trump steps into North Korea with Kim Jong Un

By Steve George, Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Kevin Liptak and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 8:39 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019
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2:06 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Tower looking across DMZ a regular destination for US leaders

US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have gone onto one of the observation posts that look out at North Korea.

At the post, they received a briefing from the US Commander describing the security along the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which is the most militarized border in the world.

"It's worth thinking how different the DMZ that President Trump is seeing is from the DMZ other leaders have seen," said CNN's Paula Hancocks, commenting on the massive reduction in armaments of the DMZ since rapprochement began between North and South Korea.

Watch the moment here:

1:46 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Trump and Moon drive into DMZ

US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have driven into the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which divides the two Koreas, and are expected to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in mere minutes.

They have gone onto one of the observation posts that offer a view of North Korea.

1:34 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Trump and Moon confirm Kim meeting, but North Korea hasn't said anything yet

From CNN's James Griffiths

Both US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in have confirmed that they will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) today.

"I look forward to it very much," Trump said. "We understand each other."

Moon said this would be "the first time in history the leaders of the US and North Korea will be standing face to face in Panmunjom," the border village in the DMZ.

One party to the meeting which hasn't confirmed it: Pyongyang.

North Korean state media previously noted Trump's comments about a potential meeting, and indications are that Kim is headed to the DMZ, but nothing is certain.

While presumably Trump and Moon would not have advertised the meeting unless they were certain it would happen, Kim has perhaps the biggest opportunity to snub a US leader in the history of relations between Pyongyang and Washington and show that it's he, not the two men south of the DMZ, in charge of this issue.

After Kim and Trump's much vaunted second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam ended in failure, it's not impossible that an attempted reset today could result in similar embarrassment.

1:34 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Trump has landed at the DMZ

US President Donald Trump has arrived at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), where he is set to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

1:33 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Journalists traveling with Trump arrive at DMZ

The helicopter carrying pool reporters traveling with US President Donald Trump to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) has arrived at the landing zone.

1:32 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

The 6 leaders whom have met Kim

From CNN’s Joshua Berlinger

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on September 20, 2018 in Samjiyon, North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on September 20, 2018 in Samjiyon, North Korea. Photo by Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

Kim Jong Un did not meet with any international leaders during his first five years in power. But since the start of 2018, he’s been racking up the miles -- and the photo-ops.

Here’s who Kim has met so far:

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping: Kim has met Xi five times. He’s taken four trips to China -- three to Beijing and one to Dalian -- and Xi met him in the North Korean capital Pyongyang in June. Kim's March 2018 trip to Beijing was his first known trip outside North Korea since ascending to power.
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in: South Korea's Moon has met Kim three times, all in 2018 -- twice at the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas and once in Pyongyang.
  • US President Donald Trump: Kim has held two summits with Trump, one in Singapore in June 2018 and another in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February 2019.
  • Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong: During the two 2018 Trump-Kim summits, Kim also met the leaders of the host countries. Kim met Lee before the Singapore summit began, and met Nguyen after the Vietnam summit finished.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin: Putin became the sixth world leader to meet with Kim in April. The two held talks in the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

1:28 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

How the two Koreas split

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

CNN
CNN

For most of its history, the Korean Peninsula has existed as a single political entity. Its division was largely a part of Cold War political calculations that were made absent of any consideration or input from Koreans.

After the end of World War II, Korea was divided into two parts: The Soviet Union occupied the area north of the 38th parallel and the US occupied the area south until 1948.

Two new countries were established in 1948: The Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

 

Learn more about the split here.

1:25 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Analyst: Trump and Kim will definitely meet at the DMZ and "make history"

US President Donald Trump has said that he hopes to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today when he arrives at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas shortly.

Pyongyang, however, so far been coy, with state media saying only that the government had noted Trump's statement with interest.

But at least one analyst thinks a meeting is already a done deal.

"President Trump and Chairman Kim will definitely meet along the DMZ and make history by shaking hands in front of the cameras but with an historic twist: Trump will cross briefly into North Korea and shake hands with Kim, becoming the first US president to officially set foot there, cementing both leader’s commitment to a better relationship," predicted Harry J. Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at the US-based Center for National Interest.

What to expect today: Kazianis added that "we should expect the meeting itself to be short but meaningful, as it will mark a reset in relations. It will also allow both sides to test each other’s intentions, possibly picking up from where negotiations left off in Hanoi."

"Such a deal would likely see North Korea agree to a big step towards denuclearization for some sort of sanctions relief, a peace declaration ending the Korean War as well as the opening of liaison offices," Kazianis said.

1:22 a.m. ET, June 30, 2019

US Presidents who have visited the DMZ

From CNN’s Joshua Berlinger and Jessie Yeung

Many of Trump’s recent predecessors have travelled to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Koreas, often photographed with binoculars peering into North Korean-controlled territory.

Here are pictures from some of their visits.

Former president Barack Obama visited the DMZ on March 25, 2012, before heading to Seoul for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.

Before then, former president George W. Bush visited the DMZ on February 20, 2002.

Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan also visited the DMZ during their presidencies. Meanwhile, presidential aides often travel even closer, approaching or entering the famed blue houses that sit in between the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), the line that divides the DMZ in half.

Hillary Clinton went on one such trip when she was serving as Secretary of State in 2010.