North and South Korea restart their hotline

North and South Korea restart their hotline
North and South Korea restart their hotline

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their meeting in 2018 afp_tickers

This content was published on Oct 04, 2021 – Jul 06:56,

October 04, 2021 – 06:56


North and South Korea restarted their cross-border hotline on Monday, a move Seoul said could help improve relations after Pyongyang sparked global concern with a series of missile tests in recent weeks.

The two sides resumed contacts with officials and exchanged their first phone call since August, days after the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on North Korean missile tests.

The two Koreas indicated an improvement in their relationship in late July by announcing the resumption of cross-border contacts, which were cut off more than a year ago, but this did not last for long, as Pyongyang stopped answering calls after only two weeks.

On Monday morning, South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed the phone call between North and South officials.

“It’s been some time and I’m very happy to restore the line of communication,” a South Korean official told his North Korean counterpart in an extract sent to reporters by the ministry.

The Ministry of Defense in the south also confirmed the resumption of cross-border military contacts.

“With the restoration of the line of communication between the South and the North, the government considers in its assessment that a ground has been provided for the restoration of inter-Korean relations,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that “the government hopes (…) to resume dialogue quickly.”

The North’s Korean Central News Agency reported early Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “expressed his intention to restart the cut lines of communication between the North and the South,” noting that the move was an attempt to establish “permanent peace” on the Korean peninsula.

But an analyst played down the move, describing it as a “symbolic” gesture, referring to North Korea’s recent missile tests.

“Even if (the return of contacts) leads to talks, we may enter a new phase in which North Korea engages in dialogue but continues to make provocations at the same time,” said Park Won-Gun, a professor of North Korean studies at Oha Women’s University.

– ignore contacts –

North Korea unilaterally cut off all official military and political contacts in June of last year due to activists sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

The two sides said on July 27 of this year that all lines of communication had been restored.

Their joint declaration, coinciding with the anniversary of the end of the Korean War, was the first positive development since a series of summits between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in 2018 that made little progress.

It was also revealed at the time that Kim and Moon had exchanged a series of messages since April in which they agreed that restarting the hotlines would be a fruitful first step in restoring relations between the two rivals who, despite the end of the 1950-1953 conflict between them, are still technically at war.

But cross-border contacts lasted only two weeks after North Korea halted them in protest against joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

Since then, Pyongyang has conducted a series of missile tests, raising tensions.

In September, it launched what it said was a long-range cruise missile, and earlier this week it tested what it described as a hypersonic glide missile.

On Friday, it said it had successfully launched a new anti-aircraft missile.

Pyongyang criticized the UN Security Council on Sunday for holding an emergency meeting on missile tests, accusing member states of playing a “ticking bomb”.

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