North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in have embraced after pledging to work for the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", punctuating a day of smiles and handshakes at the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

The two Koreas announced today they will work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean war and seek an agreement to establish "permanent" and "solid" peace in its place.

The declaration included promises to pursue phased military arms reduction, cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone, and seek multilateral talks with other countries including the United States.

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sign on a joint statement. Photo / AP
In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sign on a joint statement. Photo / AP

"The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun," the declaration said.

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Earlier, Kim became the first North Korean leader since the 1950-53 Korean War to set foot in South Korea after shaking hands with his counterpart over a concrete curb marking the border in the heavily fortified demilitarised zone between the countries.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in talk at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in talk at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone. Photo / AP

Scenes of Moon and Kim joking and walking together marked a striking contrast to last year's barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping international sanctions and fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Their dramatic meeting comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump in what would be the first ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.

Moon agreed to visit Pyongyang later this year, according to the declaration. As part of efforts to reduce tensions, the two sides agreed to open a liaison office, stop propaganda broadcasts and leaflet drops along the border, and allow Korean families divided by the border to meet. Just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.

But there was widespread scepticism about whether Kim is ready to abandon the nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against US invasion.

It's not the first time leaders of North and South Korea have declared their hope for peace, and two earlier summits, in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, failed to halt the North's weapons programmes or improve relations in a lasting way.

"We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely, in order to make sure our agreement signed today before the entire world, will not end as just a beginning like previous agreements before today," Kim said after the agreement was signed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in cross the military demarcation line at the border. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in cross the military demarcation line at the border. Photo / AP

Earlier, Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line where the men smiled and shook hands.

In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

"I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person," Kim said, wearing his customary black Mao suit.

"A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history," Kim wrote in Korean in a guest book in the South's Peace House before talks began."