Side-by-side with Kim in the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to cross the 1953 armistice line separating North and South Korea, then joined Kim for a roughly 50-minute meeting.
It was their third since Trump took office, but none have yet yielded a nuclear deal.
"Stepping across that line was a great honor," Trump said, later adding that it was "something incredible."
Trump deemed the meeting a victory, announcing that nuclear talks would resume "within weeks" and that the two countries were designating teams of officials to take the lead.
He even invited Kim, who rarely leaves the country, to visit him at the White House.
Yet for all the fanfare, there were no signs that the U.S. and the North had made any concrete progress on denuclearization, the issue that has led to North Korea's estrangement from the world.
And veteran nuclear negotiators and North Korea experts immediately questioned whether Trump, by staging a high-profile photo-op absent nuclear concessions, was bestowing legitimacy on Kim and undermining global pressure to force the North to accept a denuclearization deal.