Anchor: South and North Korea have opened a much-awaited joint liaison office ahead of the inter-Korean summit set for next week. The opening of the office, which is the first 24/7 communication channel between the two Koreas, marks a clear juncture in Seoul and Pyongyang’s relations.
Our Bae Joo-yon has this report.
Report: A ceremony marking the opening of the inter-Korean joint liaison office was held at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea on Friday.
Some 100 officials, half from the South and the other half from the North, attended the ceremony.
In a speech, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon described the communications office as a symbol of peace. He said South and North Korea will now be able to directly hold consultations 24/7 on advancing their ties and on issues related to establishing peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
His North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, said that the liaison office is a vein that links the two Koreas in their yearning for peace and unification.
The liaison office began operations right after the opening ceremony with South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and the North’s Vice Chairman of the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Country Jon Jong-su acting as co-heads.
About 15 to 20 South Korean officials will work at the office together with North Korean personnel.
The office was opened 140 days after the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to set up the venue during a summit in April. The two sides sought to open the office in mid-August but the move was delayed after debate heated up over whether or not the planned construction violated UN sanctions.
South Korea hopes to turn the liaison office into a permanent mission representing Seoul and Pyongyang.
Bae Joo-yon, KBS World Radio News.