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“Hold on to your hat. Korea is full of surprises,” Don Oberdorfer advises us in the conclusion to his recent book, “The Two Koreas.” And not since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat flew into Jerusalem more than two decades ago to mend fences with his arch rival, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and address the Israeli Knesset has there been a more improbable summit pairing.

Protocol would have dictated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pay a visit to his senior in Seoul. But he was spared that trip by South Korean President Kim Dae Jong’s previously stated willingness to meet the North Korean leader “anytime, any place.” This, along with Hyundai Chairman Chung Ju Yung’s earlier visit and precedent-setting meeting with the North Korean leader relieved him of the need to leave Pyongyang to make a gesture that might have been construed as paying penance to the leader of the stronger South.

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