Korean leaders’ body language shows they ARE working towards peace

Korean leaders’ body language shows they ARE working towards peace: Expert reveals they ‘connected’ and Kim was keen to listen to President Moon

  • Body language expert analysed meeting of the two Korean leaders
  • Kim Jong-Un showed ‘enthusiasm’ as he walked towards President Moon Jae-In
  • Kim also signaled ‘actively listening’ to President Moon during their talks 
  • Hugs and hand-holding a signal to world that they are united in peace mission 

A body language expert has said the hand-holding and hugs between the leaders of North and South Korea was part of an effort to make sure their message of unity and friendship could be understand all around the world. 

Judi James said Kim Jong-un’s body language showed that he was ‘actively listening’, noting the big smile on his face the moment he saw South Korea’s Moon Jae-In.

She also highlighted that their display of unity was almost ‘like-for-like’ identical to that of U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron this week.

United: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in between the military demarcation line in the border village of Panmunjom 

Kim became the first North Korean leader to step into the South for 65 years as he met with President Moon today at the 38th parallel in the truce village of Panmunjom.

The two sworn enemies exchanged warm greetings – holding hands and laughing –  before holding talks and planted a commemorative tree together. 

Kim and Moon also embraced warmly after signing a statement in which they agreed to work towards officially ending the 1950-53 Korean war – which stopped with an armistice – and declared ‘there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula’.  

Ms James, author and body language expert, said: ‘I got the impression from both of them, that their greeting rituals were tailored for the world stage to send strong intentional messages, and performed so everyone could understand what they were trying to say, rather than stick to traditional Korean rituals

‘The pace with which Kim Jong-Un walked towards the border showed energy and enthusiasm.

Good start: Body language expert Judi James said KIm JOng-Un’s pace walking towards President Moon showed energy and enthusiasm

Signal: Ms James said ‘their greeting rituals were tailored for the world stage to send strong intentional messages’ 

Kim and Moon were seen hugging and holding hands, believed to not be custom in either North or South Korea.

Uplifting: Ms James said that even in their raising of their hands they were moving as one – showing unity and friendship

‘It is interesting because he had his eyes down at first, but the minute he met President Moon, that’s when his first beaming mile started, so there was almost a direct connection.

‘The actual greeting, which to the naked eye it looked awkward, appeared so because they stood on either side of the concrete slab border, so they stood further apart than what is normal.’

Ms James said it was clear that President Moon was putting in a lot of work to make himself appear a good host, adding that the ‘almost theatrical way of raising his hand with palm displayed to invite Kim over the border signals openness’.  

‘Neither of them showed any sign of trying to power posture or cold formality, intentionally I would say greetings were intended to show friendship.’

Kim and Moon were seen hugging and holding hands, believed to not be custom in either North or South Korea. 

Ms James noted that they are copying recent behaviour displayed by other world leaders meeting U.S. President Trump. 

‘There is very little known about North Korean etiquette and formal meeting, but what is interesting is that their greetings almost completely mimicked what we saw from Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron. 

‘Even the prolonged signal of friendship where the handshake turns into handholding and raising the hands which Mr Trump and Mr Macron did as well.

‘It was almost like for like the same gesture.’

Keen: Ms James said that Kim signaled that he was ‘actively listening’ to Moon in talks

But while the pair were both seen beaming as they held hands and raised their arms, Ms James said that it is clear that they are aware of the gravitas of their meeting and the signals they want it to send. 

‘These are clearly historic rituals they are performing, so when they hug it is to signal breakdown of barriers and friendship.

‘Kim hand is on top in the handhold and the raising – which would normally define the instigator or more dominant – but Moon’s hand is the active one and when they hold hands it looks mutual, which is a good sign.’

The two Korean leaders were seen deep in conversation walking away once the formal step over the border had been carried out, which Ms James said appeared to be genuine, rather than staged.

‘Their body language is well mirrored which in that moment could define like-minded thinking. 

‘When they walk away together they are away from the press but their heads seem to be turned towards one another’s, genuinely seeking out conversation and possibly empathy.

‘For a lot of politicians I have seen, this is the moment where they break off, they might slump or look away because they feel like they are off stage, and so it’s interesting that these two men do not.

‘During their conversation, they appeared very compatible. We sometimes see power posturing from politicians, but I noticed in shots that I saw, that Kim sometimes had his hands behind the back and he seemed to be signalling active listening.’

After their summit, Kim and Moon announced the Koreas will push for three-way talks including the U.S. or four-way talks that also include China on converting the armistice into a peace treaty and establishing permanent peace on the peninsula.

Moon Jae-in is due to visit Pyongyang this autumn while the two sides said they hope the parties will be able to declare an official end to the war by the end of this year. 

They agreed to open a permanent communication office in the North Korean town of Kaesong, resume temporary reunions between relatives separated by the Korean War and will seek to expand civilian exchanges and pursue joint sports and cultural events.

The family reunions are expected to take place around August 15, an anniversary for both Koreas celebrating their peninsula’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule after the end of World War II.

They also agreed to rid their peninsula of nuclear weapons but did not provide any new specific measures outlining how to achieve the objective.


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