Time Magazine 12th July 2021 – Double Issue. Moon Jae-in can still hear The roar today. South Korea’s President had been seated next to Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium on Sept. 19, 2018, for the close of the Mass Games when North Korea’s leader beckoned
him up to the dais. Beneath a vast collage calling for Korea to “unite the strength of the entire people,” Moon urged the 150,000-strong crowd to “hasten a future of common prosperity and reunification,” while revelers brandished white flags with powder blue outlines of a unified Korean Peninsula. For Moon, it was a transformative experience.
The North Koreans’ “eyes and attitudes” showed that they “strongly aspire for peace,” he tells TIME. “I could see for myself that North Korea has completely changed … and is doing everything possible to develop.” That speech was the first by a South Korean leader in North Korea and the high point of a long, often agonizing process of engagement that Moon had charted since his election in May 2017. Odds were strongly against him at the outset: Moon’s arrival into Seoul’s presidential Blue House was bookmarked by North Korean weapons tests, including three longrange intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and a purported hydrogen bomb, prompting then U.S. President Donald Trump to dispatch a U.S. Navy carrier group and threaten “little rocket man” with “fire and fury” in riposte. There had been no ofcial dialogue between North and South since 2013, and caught between an irascible dictator and a geopolitical neophyte, Moon feared the worst: “We were actually on the brink of war.” Time Magazine 12th July 2021 – Double Issue. Moon helped guide the world back from the abyss. Reconciliation kicked off with Kim agreeing to Moon’s invitation to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Soon
after, Kim and Moon met at the Korean demilitarized zone that has separated its communist North from its capitalist South since an armistice effectively.