SEOUL, South Korea—North Korea has restored a communication hotline with the south after weeks of a hiatus in a small, fragile reconciliation step on Monday, despite the Kim regime continuing to conduct its missile tests.
Liaison officials from the two Koreas exchanged messages over a cross-border communication channel on Monday morning, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
The North is also expected to restore other communication channels running across the tense border later Monday.
The phone and fax channels—which the liberal democratic South and the socialist North use to set up meetings, arrange border crossings and avoid accidental clashes—have been largely dormant for more than a year.
In June last year, North Korea blew up a liaison office and unilaterally cut off all inter-Korean communication lines over anti-regime materials flown over by people in the South with balloons.
Communications were briefly revived for about two weeks this summer, but the North later cut communications again when Seoul and Washington went ahead with their annual military drills against Pyongyang’s wishes. North Korea views the drills as an invasion rehearsal. The latest freeze in communications lasted 55 days.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the hotline’s reconnection laid a foundation for the restoration of ties between the two Koreas and stability on the Korean Peninsula. A ministry statement said Seoul hopes the two Koreas will resume talks soon to discuss how to implement previous cooperation agreements and establish a peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Last week, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to reactivate the communication channels, saying he wanted to realize the Korean people’s desire to promote peace on the peninsula. But Kim urged Seoul to abandon a “double-dealing attitude” and “hostile viewpoint” over North Korea’s recent missile tests and other developments, while shrugging off U.S. offers for dialogue.
Some experts say North Korea is trying to use South Korea’s desire to improve ties to pressure it to persuade the United States to relax punishing economic sanctions.
Separate from its peace overtures, North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests that were its first weapons launches in six months. The weapons tested include potentially nuclear-capable missiles that place South Korea and Japan, both key U.S. allies, within striking distance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.