Following a lengthy severance of the cross-border hotline, North Korea has reestablished contact with the South. This follows Kim Jong Un’s admission that he is willing to restart contact as a conditional olive branch. According to Pyongyang officials, this was partly dependent on the attitude of South Korean authorities.
On Monday, South Korea’s unification ministry announced that officials from both Koreas had made their first phone contact since August.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve talked. We are overjoyed that the communication routes have been reestablished in this manner. “We expect that South-North relations would progress to a new level,” a Seoul official said over the phone with his North Korean colleague.
“With the repair of the South-North communication connection, the administration believes that a foundation for the restoration of inter-Korean relations has been given,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to observers, this is one of North Korea’s attempts to use South Korea’s desire to repair relations in order to persuade the US to ease punitive economic sanctions.
“The South Korean authorities should make positive efforts to put the North-South ties on the right track and settle the important tasks that must be prioritized to open up the bright prospect in the future, keeping in mind the significance of the restoration of communication lines,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in the run-up to the restoration.
This is not the first time that communication connections between the two sides have been severed and reestablished. Following a failed meeting between the two Koreas in 2020, Pyongyang blew up an inter-Korean border office designed to increase contacts.
The connection was briefly restored in August before being cut again when South Korea participated in joint military drills with the US. Following the end of the Korean War in 1953, the two countries never signed a peace treaty.