Kim Jong-un promised a "new story" in his relations with his neighbor the first North Korean leader who had gained a foothold in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
South Korean leaders Moon Jae-in and Kim shook hands at the border in a moment rich in symbolism and pomp. 1
It comes only months after martial rhetoric from North Korea.
Much of what the summit will focus on was agreed in advance, but many analysts remain skeptical of the North's apparent enthusiasm for engagement.
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Why is that important?
The meeting – the first meeting between Korean leaders in more than a decade – is seen as a step towards potentially peace on the peninsula and is the first such summit for Mr. Kim.
It is promising for both Koreas on issues ranging from nuclear technology and sanctions to separate families, and is seen as an opportunity to promote economic cooperation.
"I believe [we] lit a torch at the starting point … the moment to write a new story about peace, prosperity, and North-South relations," Kim said before the talks with Mr. Moon at the Peace House in the border village Panmunjom.
"A new story begins now," he also wrote in a guestbook.
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The White House has expressed hope that the talks will progress Towards an upcoming meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in the coming weeks – an unprecedented step.
What about the nuclear issue?
The talks are likely to focus on an agreement on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which has progressed significantly since the last summit more than a decade ago.
Seoul has warned that an agreement to eliminate Pyongyang's nuclear weapons will be "difficult" to achieve.
Mr. Kim announced last week that he is suspending nuclear testing.
The move was welcomed by the US and South Korea, although Chinese researchers pointed out that North Korea's nuclear test site could be unusable after a rockfall after the last nuclear test.
In addition to Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the leaders are expected to discuss a formal end to the Korean War of 1950-1953 as well as economic and social issues.
How did we get here? Few had predicted such a development when North Korea continued its nuclear and missile tests, reinforcing its rhetoric until 2016 and 2017.
The rapprochement began in January when Mr Kim suggested that he be "open to dialogue" with South Korea.
The following month, the two countries marched under a flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
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Kim's new diplomatic appetite led to the crucial watershed meeting in March with senior South Korean government officials announcing that Mr. Kim would also meet with Mr. Trump.
How did the summit begin?
The leaders were greeted on the South Korean side by a guard of honor in traditional costumes. The couple then went to the Peace House in Panmunjom, a demilitarized zone (DMZ) military complex between the two countries.
The whole of South Korea stood still when the leaders on both sides of the border shook hands. The insignificant side of Korean relations
The spectators looked surprised when Kim invited the South Korean president to cross the demarcation line to North Korea before the Couple returned to South Korea – all holding hands
It was an apparently untold moment during a highly choreographed sequence of events.
The first session was interrupted and the couple parted for lunch. Mr. Kim returned to lunch in a heavily guarded black sedan for lunch. The discussions should continue in the afternoon.
It was also interrupted by lighter moments. Mr. Kim joked about bringing some of North Korea's famous cold noodles to the summit.
"I hope you will really enjoy the noodles we brought," he said.
What was planned for this day?
Every detail has been carefully planned, from the schedule to the evening menu.
At an afternoon ceremony, leaders plant a jaw of soil and water from both countries to symbolize "peace and prosperity."
The summit will end with the signing of an agreement and the submission of a joint declaration before dinner. The banquet will take place on the south side and the menu is as symbolic as the other rituals.
Mr. Kim is served the Swiss potato dish Rösti – a nod to his time studying in Switzerland – along with the original dish of the North cold noodles and a North Korean liquor.
Mr. Kim is accompanied by nine officers, including his powerful and influential sister Kim Yo-jong.
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