Inter-Korean summit rehearsals in Panmunjeom | HaB

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The two Koreas are gearing up preparations for the inter-Korean summit, with only four days to go before the historic bilateral talks over denuclearization slated for Friday.

Officials of the South and the North will have rehearsals of the meeting between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over many times this week, sometimes separately and sometimes jointly.

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While discussions are still underway for some of the issues concerning protocol, security and media coverage, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed on many other parts of the meeting, such as live coverage of the two leaders’ first encounter, their signing a visitors’ book, and their conversation at the beginning of the meeting.

People will also be able to get real-time coverage of the scenes through mobile devices.

Two weeks of renovation work on Peace House, a building on the southern side of Panmunjeom that will be the summit venue, was finished last Friday. A meeting room was set up on the second floor of the house and a banquet room on the third, in case the two leaders have lunch or dinner together, which has not yet been decided.

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The government is now bringing necessary electronic equipment, furniture, paintings, flowers and red carpets to the house, and the decoration work will be finished today.

On Tuesday, staffers of the summit preparation committee’s subcommittees on agenda setting, communications and operational support will have a rehearsal of the whole process of the summit. Then more staffers will have another rehearsal in a more detailed way on Thursday, a day before the big day, sorting out any glitches that may be found during Tuesday’s rehearsal.

North Korea will also send an advance group to Peace House on Tuesday and have similar rehearsals _ it means working-level officials of the two Koreas will virtually stay there together until the day of the summit, having real-time communications and cooperation.

Some of the protocol, security and media coverage issues have not been worked out, such as how Kim will cross the military demarcation line, how Moon will greet him, whether the first ladies will attend and meet together, whether the two leaders will have lunch or dinner together, and whether they will have a joint press conference after the meeting.

The two Koreas will have a third round of working-level meetings today to decide on such issues, and the second round of high-level meetings can be held as well if they need to finalize more details.

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A situation room will be set up at Freedom House, another building on the southern side of Panmunjeom, where operational and security staffers from related ministries will stay until the day of the summit.

The main press center will open on Thursday at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, where nearly 2,800 journalists from around the world are expected to come. About 1,000 journalists came for the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, and around 1,700 for the second in 2007.

Moon and Kim will also likely have their first phone call as early as today through a hotline that was set up Friday. The direct communication line was installed between Moon’s office and Kim’s office at the State Affairs Commission, where Kim serves as chairman.

“The first phone conversation will be a chance for the two leaders to hear each other’s voices directly for the first time,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said. “They are likely to have a casual conversation, pledging to produce a substantial outcome in the upcoming summit.”


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