North and South Korea have reopened lines of communication that had been cut off.
Both countries announced that the two Koreas resumed communications and military hotlines on Monday and successfully tested the equipment, amid signs of warming relations on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised last week to reopen the lines, which had been virtually idle for more than a year after Pyongyang shut off all communication with Seoul.
The communications lines were turned on at 9 a.m. Monday, according to a statement from North Korea’s state-run news agency, as part of a “effort to realize the expectation and desire of the entire nation who want the [N]orth-[S]outh relations to be restored as soon as possible and a lasting peace to be settled on the Korean Peninsula.”
Seoul should “make constructive steps” to restore relations and “settle the major issues that must be prioritized in order to open up bright future prospects,” according to a statement from the Korean Central News Agency.
The military in South Korea verified that its hotlines on the east and west coastlines of the country have resumed normal operations on Monday.
According to the Defense Ministry, the military communications channel “has contributed to the prevention of inadvertent clashes.”
“It is hoped that this move to reestablish military communication links between the South and North Korean authorities would result in a significant reduction in military tensions on the Korean Peninsula in the future,” the statement stated.
The Ministry of Unification in South Korea also stated that the country’s direct hotline with the North was reactivated on Monday. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the administration hopes to “begin and advance substantial conversations on strengthening inter-Korean relations and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
According to the ministry, the two parties will hold planned calls twice a day, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
After complaining about defectors flying information pamphlets across the border via balloons, North Korea cut off all connections and destroyed a joint liaison office in the border town of Kaesong in June 2020.
Pyongyang temporarily reopened the hotlines in July, but stopped answering them in August in protest of joint military drills between the US and South Korea, which the North routinely says are invasion rehearsals.
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