PYONGYANG -- The Paekhwawon State Guest House where South Korean President Moon Jae-in will stay during his trip to Pyongyang is known as North Korea's facility to host heads of state and foreign dignitaries.
Built in 1983 along the Taedong River that runs through Pyongyang, the guest house is composed of three three-story buildings that are connected to one another. It can accommodate up to 90 guests.
With thick woods behind it, the Taedong River flowing in front and a large artificial lake, the facility appears to provide an optimal place to ensure security and privacy for foreign dignitaries.
The guest house boasts well-manicured lawns and gardens. The name Paekhwawon is said to have come from a "hundred" kinds of flowers blooming in and around it.
It has been a major facility for the North to host foreign dignitaries.
In 2000, Madeleine Albright, then US secretary of state, stayed there. In 2002, then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also stayed there during his stay in the North's capital.
The place is not a strange place for South Korean people either.
South Korea's former presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, stayed in the guest house when they visited Pyongyang for their summit talks with then North Koran leader Kim Jong-il, respectively in 2000 and 2007. Their summit meetings were also held in the building.
The guest house, which was renovated this year, was also used as a place where South Korean officials stayed during the 1990s visiting Pyongyang for high-level inter-Korean talks.
"Historically speaking, this is where all of the June 15 and October 4 declarations were adopted," Kim said, introducing the guest house to the South Korean president and first lady. He was referring to the agreements the two Koreas adopted after the 2000 and second 2007 inter-Korean summits.
Unlike the previous two inter-Korean summits, both of them held at the Paekhwawon guest house, Moon and Kim met on Tuesday in the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.
This marked the first time that the North's leader has hosted a foreign leader in his office in the highly secured building, a Seoul official said.
Given that the building is deemed a place mostly reserved for leader Kim, experts say that it signals that the North might try to give more official meaning to this week's summit meetings.
"The fact that Chairman Kim Jong-un opens his own office for the summit with President Moon Jae-in could be seen as a signal that he is ready to discuss in earnest issues such as denuclearization, a peace regime and inter-Korean relations," Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Seoul-based Dongguk University, said. (Yonhap)