In Depth

Korean summit: world reacts to nuclear pledge agreed over noodles

First meeting between the two leaders of North and South Korea punctuated by oddly humorous moments

Today’s historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in, has captured the world’s attention.

It marked the first time a North Korean leader has set foot in South Korea since war broke out between the two nations almost 70 years ago.

The two leaders “grinned as they... stepped back and forth across the border line together, hand in hand” in televised scenes “scarcely imaginable even a few months ago”, says Politico’s Jack Blanchard.

Kim and Moon - whose nations are still technically at war - then chatted amiably as they watched a traditional Korean cultural performance and inspected a military parade.

After exchanging gifts, including a batch of noodles brought from Pyongyang, the two leaders agreed to work to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons.

‘Bring me sunshine’

The evocative images of the two men holding hands did not escape the attention of Twitter.

‘World’s tightest security blanket’

There was another oddly comic moment as 12 sharply dressed bodyguards were seen running beside the Kim Jong Un’s vehicle as it drove away from the early session of the summit.

The bodyguards, part of The Guard Command, the military unit tasked with ensuring the safety of the leadership, “are an elite institution close to the centre of North Korean power,” says the Associated Press.

Ri Yong Guk, a defector from the North who served on a security detail for Kim Jong Il, wrote in a 2013 memoir: “It is one of the world's tightest security blankets through which even a single ant would find it hard to go”.

Korean canoodling

Speaking on camera later in the day, Kim Jong Un revealed he had brought President Moon some North Korean noodles as a gift from Pyongyang.

According to media reports, he said: “I've been checking news and people are talking about food a lot. So I brought some Pyongyang cold noodles for President Moon to enjoy. President Moon, please feel easy and have some delicious Pyongyang noodles that we brought.”

Another translation suggested he also joked that the noodles had been brought “a long way... ah, we probably shouldn't say it is far”.

On the face of it, it may not have seemed a momentous statement of diplomacy, “but his comments lit up South Korea and sparked a craze for Pyongyang cold noodles”, says the BBC describing it as a “call to noodle” moment.

For the uninitiated, Pyongyang cold noodles are “handmade buckwheat noodles served cold in a flavoured broth of beef, pork and chicken and topped with kimchi, cucumber and pickles or meat”, says the BBC.

According to The Guardian, the head chef of one of Pyongyang’s most famous restaurants will travel to the site to prepare the dish especially for the summit.

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