Camp David

Leaders take big gambles in visiting 'enemy' territory

It's a rare and highly symbolic occurrence that history marks with reverence: A leader of a nation, once at hot or cold war with the other, ventures into enemy territory.

Every effort is made to lay on a glittering welcome — and the hosts' intelligence services might also enjoy a tangible boon. The visitors take a gamble and concede home field advantage, something far beyond the comfort zone for many of the leaders, and statesmanship becomes the name of the game.

The outcome can lead to a geopolitical gain or simply fade away.

This week's trip by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the capital of North Korea may appear to have less impact to some outside the...