As the leaders of the two Koreas on Friday crossed the border hand-in-hand, raising hopes for the reunification of the peninsula that has been divided for decades, Koreans living in Japan rejoiced over the first inter-Korean summit in nearly 11 years.
About 40 Korean residents in Japan gathered at the Korean Cultural Center in Osaka to watch the meeting live on TV, cheering as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held hands and walked across the Military Demarcation Line separating the two countries.
“I am hoping for an outcome that leads to the reunification of the South and the North,” said Pin Chun Hwa, 81. “I hope Mr. Kim Jong Un will promise to abandon nuclear weapons.”
The two countries are technically still at war as the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended in a cease-fire.
“I want them to issue a declaration of the end of the Korean War for the goal of denuclearization,” said Chong Gap Su, 63, who heads a committee that organizes the One Korea Festival.
Second-generation Korean Pak Chae Hwa, 63, who watched TV coverage of the summit, said through tears that it was a “dream come true.”
“If (the outcome) leads to an improvement in North Korea-U.S. and North Korea-Japan relations, the status of North Koreans living in Japan will also improve,” Pak said.
But others remained skeptical about the summit and North Korea’s talk of giving up its nuclear weapons.
“No one is wishing for a war so it’s good to have talks, but I still don’t know how much I can trust (North Korea),” said Pak Sun Ga, 44, a third-generation Korean living in Tokyo.