May 9, 2018 / 7:46 AM / 6 months ago

Rush to replay leaders' handshake revives appeal of Korean movie set

NAMYANGJU, South Korea (Reuters) - When a smiling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the border of their countries during a summit last month, images of the historic moment grabbed the world’s attention.

It was the first time a North Korean leader had set foot in the South since the 1950-1953 Korean War. Moon and Kim said they would work to denuclearise the Korean peninsula and seek a peace agreement to replace the 1953 armistice.

Since that April 27 encounter, a movie set version of the compound where the leaders met has become popular with South Koreans, who line up to recreate the famous handshake and snap a photograph.

“It is much more realistic to actually see it here,” said Kim Sang-jin, 8, who watched the meeting live on television.

“I wondered how they felt when holding hands, and now my curiosity has been satisfied,” he told Reuters Television.

The faded film set on the outskirts of Seoul, the South Korean capital, has become a destination for selfie-seeking tourists who cannot step across the real, heavily-guarded border at the exact spot the Korean leaders met.

The set was built at a studio for the South Korean murder mystery film “Joint Security Area”, named for the United Nations-administered area along the border between the two countries technically still at war.

The replica compound at the KOFIC Namyangju Studio is an hour’s drive from the real Joint Security Area, near the truce village of Panmunjom, where the leaders met.

Slideshow (6 Images)

On a recent sunny day, families, couples and even a pet dog roamed the set, smiling and laughing as they mimicked the handshake between Moon and the reclusive Kim.

For many visitors, including older ones who lived through the war, the summit raised hopes for peace on the divided peninsula.

“I feel unification of the North and South would be great,” said 91-year-old Lee Young-hee. “I think it would be wonderful to live united.”

Additional reporting by; Writing by Haejin Choi; Editing by Josh Smith and Darren Schuettler

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