Scaling the Summit

  • Kisam Kim
  • Donald Kirk


Choi Won-ki and Chung Chang-hyun in their book, 600 Days for North-South Summit, describe in minute detail the opening scene of the drama leading to the first summit between the leaders of North and South Korea:

On November 28, 1998, a JS1-52 airplane of Air Koryo, a version of the Soviet Air Force TU1-54, touched down at Beijing Capital International Airport. As the door opened, a man in his 50s, with slicked-back hair, wearing double-bridge glasses, in a dark blue suit, stepped out followed by a younger man in his 40s, apparently an attaché.

The two men met a third man who seemed to know them very well. After exchanging brief greetings, the three moved to the “diplomat only” line at the immigration counter. Glancing at their passports, the officer from the foreign affairs section in the ministry of state security let them through right away. They strode quickly out of the terminal, climbed into the Mercedes-Benz 280 awaiting them and slipped away from the airport. Seeing them leave, the MSS officer picked up the phone and announced, “The two middle school students from Pyongyang just arrived:’ The voice on the other end answered with a single word, “Dui,” meaning “Yes.”

An hour later, the two showed up at the tenth floor of a five-star hotel in downtown Beijing. Waving to signal, “We’re here,” the attaché opened the door. A man from Seoul, middle-aged, short, with a square face, greeted them, shaking hands and smiling. “It seems we have known one another for a long time,” he said. “I know you well even though you don’t know me.” One of the two responded, “Even though you know me well, I know more than you when it comes to South Korea.” They chuckled politely, hands clasped in an extended handshake.1


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Copyright information

© Kisam Kim and Donald Kirk 2013

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  • Kisam Kim
  • Donald Kirk

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