Panmunjom and the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ were created in the Korean War armistice of 1953 and remain symbols of the unending hostilities on the divided Korean Peninsula. Peace House is south of the border inside the DMZ, and a visit there by Mr. Kim would make him the first North Korean leader to step across the border since the war.
Some South Korean news outlets interpreted Mr. Moon’s remarks as indicating that he wanted Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim to also hold their summit meeting in the DMZ. Holding it in Panmunjom could provide great optics for Mr. Moon’s government, which has focused on easing border tensions and playing matchmaker between Washington and Pyongyang.
But Panmunjom carries uncomfortable historical baggage for the United States. North Korean soldiers killed two American Army officers with axes there in 1976. For their one-on-one meeting, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim might prefer a more neutral venue not on the Korean Peninsula.
On Wednesday, South Korea proposed holding high-level talks at Panmunjom on March 29 to discuss the agenda and other details of the inter-Korean summit meeting.
North Korea has yet to publicly announce that Mr. Kim has invited Mr. Trump to a summit meeting, and its state-run news media has not reported on Mr. Trump’s acceptance of the offer or the agreement to hold an inter-Korean meeting. Analysts said the silence was not unusual for the North Korean regime, which could fear raising expectations too early among its people.
United States officials have been reaching out to the North Koreans to hear directly from them about Mr. Kim’s invitation and learn more about his intentions, particularly since he was quoted by South Korean envoys as telling them he was interested in discussing “denuclearizing” his country.
Officials and analysts remain unsure whether Mr. Kim’s offer signals a fundamental shift toward dismantling his nuclear arsenal or represents a short-term ploy to confuse his enemies, ease sanctions and buy time to further advance his nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile programs.
The plan to hold summit meetings within just weeks of each other is presenting unprecedented challenges to diplomatic officials. The leaders would most likely face each other without first having lower-ranking officials work out nettlesome details of an ambitious agenda, particularly how to end the North’s nuclear weapons program.
It remains unclear whether Washington and Pyongyang could attempt such working-level talks ahead of their leaders’ proposed meeting. If not, even if their talks go well, the leaders might only produce broad-brush agreements that would be tricky to implement, analysts said.
South Koreans are used to such a top-down approach. Their government’s previous summit meetings with Kim Jong-il, Mr. Kim’s father who ruled the North before him, produced sweeping agreements in 2000 and 2007. But the deals were eventually ignored or scrapped by South Korean conservative leaders who later took power and were angered by the North’s persistence in its nuclear weapons development.
On Wednesday, Mr. Moon said it was fortunate that his planned summit meeting is taking place early in his five-year term, giving him time to ensure that any agreements he forges with Mr. Kim will take root before he leaves office.
Mr. Moon indicated that his government is working on what analysts have called a “grand bargain” in which it hopes to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons in return for economic incentives and security guarantees.
He said that the negotiations must aim for “the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the permanent peace regime there, the normalization of relations between North Korea and the United States, and improvement of South-North Korean ties, and economic cooperation between the North and the United States or among the two Koreas and the United States.”
He also instructed his officials to consult with the United States. As they prepared for meetings with Mr. Kim, both South Korea and the United States have repeatedly said they would not “repeat the past mistakes,” alluding to the Trump administration’s assertions that previous administrations gave too many concessions while North Korea did not denuclearize.
After South Korean envoys met Mr. Kim in Pyongyang, they said Mr. Kim said his country would not need any nuclear weapons if it no longer felt threatened by the United States and its allies.
Still, the United States and North Korea remain deeply mistrustful of each other and face many unresolved issues.
United States officials hope that North Korea will soon release three Americans held on vague charges of committing “hostile acts,” viewing such a gesture as a sign of good will ahead of a Trump-Kim meeting.
The North’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, visited Stockholm last week to meet with Swedish officials who serve as “protecting power” for Americans held in the North, since Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic ties. But on Tuesday, Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, reported no immediate deal on the release of the Americans.
“We would love to have our American citizens brought home — a huge priority for this administration — but as far as we’re concerned there’s nothing underway,” she said.