Since U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week he was willing to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, speculation has mounted over where might be chosen to host the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.
Kim has yet to publicly confirm his invitation to meet with Trump in a bid to defuse a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the exact location and timing of any summit remain to be determined.
But that hasn’t stopped officials, analysts, and other observers from debating the pros and cons of possible summit sites, ranging from North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang, to the Joint Security Area (JSA) between the two Koreas, to farther afield in other areas of Asia or Europe.
Here are a few of the top locations being discussed:
JOINT SECURITY AREA, PANMUNJOM
One of the most likely sites being discussed is the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom that straddles the Military Demarcation Line between North and South Korea.
It’s the only spot along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where North Korean troops stand face-to-face with South Korean and United Nations Command forces.
“Places like Switzerland, Sweden or Jeju Island have been gaining a lot of attention, but we also view the JSA as a serious option,” an official with South Korea’s presidential Blue House said on Sunday.
Some sceptics see the JSA as a symbol of the Korean War and continued tensions, rather than a place for a peace deal.
However, it would allow Kim and Trump to meet without travelling far from either of their respective security forces or to be seen kowtowing in an “enemy” capital.
Kim is scheduled to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the JSA in April for their first ever summit, and South Korean officials see it as a top contender for a Trump summit as well.
“If North Korea and the U.S., who are the directly involved parties of the truce agreement, hold the summit at Panmunjom, it would hold the significant meaning of turning a symbol of division into one of peace,” the Blue House official said.