South Korean trust in North jumps after summit

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Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, April 27, 2018. Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean trust in North Korea has surged since last week’s feel-good summit at which their leaders declared an end to hostilities and to work towards denuclearisation of the peninsula.

A survey taken on Friday, the day North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, showed 64.7 percent believe the North will denuclearise and keep peace. Before the summit, only 14.7 percent of those polled said they did, research agency Realmeter said yesterday.

Many South Koreans were struck by the live TV images during the summit of a smiling and joking Mr Kim. Never before had they seen a self-deprecating and witty side to him, admitting that his country’s train system was inferior and promising he wouldn’t wake up Mr Moon any more with early morning missile launches.

Mr Kim seemed markedly different from former North Korean leaders – his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung, people on the street in Seoul said yesterday.

“Denuclearising is definitely possible,” said 41-year-old Kim Jin-han. The North Korean leader “talked about his country’s weaknesses, such as the infrastructure. He was very open about that. This is very different from the previous leaders. So I think he is ready to wholly give up nuclear weapons.”

Mr Kim’s comments about bringing Pyongyang-style cold noodles to the summit banquet clearly captivated many in the South, prompting some to add his face to the photo of a popular app for a food delivery service, holding a bowl of noodles under his arm.

One social media post getting attention said that with a successful summit, South Korea should brace for an onslaught of North Korean beer as the first wave of “cultural aggression”. A parody showed a South Korean news announcer reporting that Mr Kim complaining about watery South Korean beer compared to Taedonggang Beer featured in the background.

South Korea’s stock market got a boost yesterday, lifted by shares of construction companies and train and steel manufacturers on hopes for joint economic projects.

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