April 30 (UPI) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s up close and personal encounter with North Korea’s reclusive Kim Jong Un is providing insights into Kim’s character: a man who disarms others with jokes and displays good manners.
A presidential Blue House official who briefed reporters Monday said Kim left a positive impression on Moon during the summit Friday, News 1 reported.
Moon had reportedly said Kim was “frank and courteous” and deferred to Moon, who is about 30 years older than the North Korean leader.
At one point of the summit, the North Korean leader waited for Moon to board an elevator first before getting on himself.
The North Korean leader also gently pulled aside his wife, Ri Sol Ju, so South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook, 62, could enter the elevator first, the Blue House official said.
Kim joked he was “embarrassed” or bashful after South Korean officials applauded one of his several handshakes with Moon during the summit.
“I feel embarrassed for receiving applause just for a handshake,” Kim said, according to local paper Hankyoreh.
The two Korean leaders also exchanged views on inter-Korea communications.
According to the report, Kim asked whether Moon will “always pick up the phone” if he called Seoul on the newly established hotline.
Moon said, “That’s not how [the hotline] works.”
Moon then explained administrators on both sides need to make an appointment before a call takes place.
Kim may have put South Korea’s top government officials at ease with small talk.
Upon meeting Seoul’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa, Kim said he recognizes her because he had “seen her on TV many times.”
Kang is South Korea’s first woman foreign minister.
Kim may have also taken Seoul’s Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyun by surprise with his remarks.
Yonhap reported Monday the North Korean leader said he confirmed his desire to not use force on the peninsula.
According to Cho, Kim said the use of force would be the equivalent of “piercing my eye with my own hand.”
Following the summit, South Koreans are showing a renewed enthusiasm for North Korean products, including the country’s beer.
South Koreans commenting online said they would like to taste North Korea’s Taedonggang beer, following reports Kim compared North and South Korean beer during the summit dinner, No Cut News reported Monday.
The beer was embargoed after 2010.