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Two Koreas Restore Communication Channels after More Than 13 Months

Hot Issues of the Week2021-08-01


The two Koreas agreed to restore communication channels from Tuesday, more than 13 months after North Korea unilaterally severed them in protest against defector groups' anti-Pyongyang leaflet activities.

At an emergency press briefing on Tuesday, senior presidential secretary for public communication Park Soo-hyun said the channels reopened at 10:00 a.m.

The restoration comes 413 days after the North cut off all lines, including the one at the truce village of Panmunjeom, on June 9 last year.

According to the presidential office, President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have exchanged letters since April, to communicate on improving inter-Korean relations.

The latest agreement to reestablish communications links was reached between the two leaders. However, there was no discussion on holding an inter-Korean summit, the office said.

The senior secretary said Moon and Kim also agreed to restore mutual trust between the two sides and move forward in developing cross-border ties.

The government welcomed the restoration of communication channels.

At a press briefing, Unification Ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo said he expressed the government's hopes that the reinstatement will help reboot discussions on various inter-Korean issues and implement steps to fulfill previous agreements.

The two Koreas agreed to resume twice daily phone contacts at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The communication center in South Korea is stationed within the Unification Ministry in Seoul. North Korea has not revealed the location of its own contact center.

The two major political parties also welcomed the restoration of communication links between the two Koreas, with the ruling party optimistic while the main opposition was more reserved.

Ruling Democratic Party(DP) spokesperson Lee So-young said in a briefing on Tuesday that the phone line is symbolic of cross-border communication and demonstrates determination to convert the Korean War armistice into lasting peace.

However, main opposition People Power Party(PPP) spokesperson Yang Jun-woo said the channels have been repeatedly severed and reinstated by North Korea. He said a dialogue is when two-way exchanges based on mutual respect take place, a one-way communication is usually called a courtship.

The PPP also wants an accountable response from North Korea on a number of events that took place while the lines were severed, such as cyberattacks, missile launches and the death of a South Korean civil servant in North Korean waters.

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