10/01/2007, 00.00
KOREA
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South Korean president to cross northern border with North on foot

The symbolic gesture will start Roh Moo-hyun’s visit. South Korean leader will meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-il, at least five times. His presence at the controversial ‘Arirang’ show causes anger, opposition calls it one of Pyongyang’s preferred tools of torture.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has decided to cross the demarcation line that divides the Korean peninsula on foot “to serve as an historic occasion,” his press office announced, raising doubts about how the second intra-Korean summit in 60 years will be organised. According to Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, the “president and his entourage crossing the MDL on foot will be an historic and impressive moment [. . .] to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Roh and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il are expected to meet at least five times in formal meetings during the summit.

The summit should start with Mr Roh attending an official welcoming ceremony in Pyongyang hosted by Supreme People’s Assembly President Kim Yong-nam. The key moment will take place on Wednesday when the two Korean leaders meet, with only a few key aides present.

Afterwards, Roh is to watch North Korea’s mass gymnastics propaganda performance “Arirang.”

His decision to attend the controversial event has provoked an irate reaction in the South where the opposition attacked the president for taking part what it considers one of Kim Jong-il’s favourite tools of torture, saying that it is like having a South Korean delegation attend the event is like visiting a concentration camp.

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