Despite North Korea's recent missile launches and its hint at resuming nuclear testing, behind the scenes inter-Korean contact is continuing.
Speaking to Yonhap news agency on Saturday, a senior government official confirmed that communication with North Korea is continuing, echoing a National Intelligence Service report to a parliamentary committee on Friday.
Communication is believed to be between NIS Director Park Jie-won and the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong through intelligence channels.
But conditions do not appear to have developed to a stage that could lead to significant cross-border dialogue.
When asked whether inter-Korean negotiations could resume in the near future, the official said that is not the case, and added there has not been any particular progress to bring about changes in stalled relations.
In its parliamentary report, the NIS reportedly cited possible signs of contact between the North and the U.S., but no moves pointing to tangible progress in relations.
Despite continued communication, observers say it's unlikely that Pyongyang will resume talks in earnest as the regime has practically suspended external activities amid the pandemic.
A breakthrough is likely to be difficult as the North's demand for a withdrawal of U.S. hostile policies including joint drills with South Korea is unlikely to be accepted.