North, South Korea reopen hotlines in attempt to mend relationship
North and South Korea restored communication hotlines on Monday in an attempt to improve the countries' relationship, AP reports.
State of play: North Korean officers answered calls from their South Korean counterparts for the first time in two months, per AP. The hotlines are communication channels between the Koreas used to schedule meetings, discuss border issues and avoid conflict.
- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said last week he was willing to reopen the hotlines to promote peace between the two nations, AP notes.
Catch up quick: North Korea had cut off the hotlines in August following the announcement that South Korea and the U.S. would have joint military exercises, per Reuters. The North Korean government considered the exercises to be invasion rehearsals.
- Prior to August, the hotlines had not been in use for over a year since North Korea cut off communications in protest of South Korean civilian informational campaigns against it, according to AP.
What they're saying: "Long time no talk. We’re very pleased because the communication channels have been restored like this. We hope that South-North relations will develop into a new level," a Seoul official told his North Korean counterpart during a phone conversation, per AP.
- The South Korean Defense Ministry said it hoped the hotlines' reopening would lead to a better relationship and help ease military tension, per Reuters.
- A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Reuters that it supports the hotlines because they are "an important component in creating a more stable environment on the Korean Peninsula."
Yes, but: "It’s unclear how substantially the move will improve ties between the Koreas, as Pyongyang has a history of using the hotlines as a bargaining chip in dealings with Seoul," AP writes.