Seoul, 4 October 2021 (dpa/MIA) – North Korea and South Korea have restored their direct communications lines, a spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry confirmed in Seoul on Monday.
In a statement carried by the North Korean state agency KCNA, the move was described as “part of the effort to realize the expectation and desire of the entire nation who want the North-South relations to be restored as soon as possible and lasting peace to be settled on the Korean Peninsula.”
South Korea expressed hope on Monday for the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue.
The reconnection of the communication lines could pave the way “for bringing the relations between the two Koreas back on track,” the Unification Ministry said.
The telephone and fax lines are central to communication between the two countries, who technically have never ceased hostilities from the Korean War and who do not have embassies in each other’s capital cities, Pyongyang and Seoul.
North and South Korea had reopened communication channels between the governments and the military at the end of July after they were unilaterally cut by North Korea last year.
But after only two weeks, North Korea stopped the connection again in protest against joint annual military exercises by South Korea and the United States.
Pyongyang recently held out the prospect of talks with its neighbours, including a new summit, under certain conditions.
Kim last week said the lines are being restored as part of efforts to improve relations and build peace on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea, which is subject to international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons programme, has caused fresh tension recently with new missile tests.
It tested a newly developed hypersonic missile last month. Hypersonic describes speeds above five times the speed of sound – more than 6,000 kilometres per hour. Weapons of this type are difficult to intercept.
North Korea also fired two short-range missiles last month. South Korean President Moon Jae In described that test as a “provocation” at the time.
UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles, which, depending on their design, can also carry a nuclear warhead.
Negotiations between North Korea and the United States have not made any progress since Kim’s failed summit with former US President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February 2019.
Intra-Korean relations have also suffered from the stalemate.