The Korea Herald


Inter-Korean military hotline to be restored

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Jan. 9, 2018 - 19:41

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The two Koreas agreed to revive the South-North military hotline in the West Sea during their first talks in more than two years, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification said Tuesday. 

A South Korean soldier performs test-calls on the inter-Korean military hotline near the West Sea region in July 2017. (Yonhap) A South Korean soldier performs test-calls on the inter-Korean military hotline near the West Sea region in July 2017. (Yonhap)

A five-member South Korean delegation headed by Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon and the North Korean delegation kicked off meetings at the truce village of Panmunjeom at 10 a.m. Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, served as the chief delegate for the North Korean delegation, which also marked five members. The CPRC is North Korea’s state agency handling inter-Korean affairs.

“During the meeting, North Korea notified us that it had restored the West Sea military hotline,” Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said in a briefing.

South Korea confirmed the reopening of the hotline at around 2 p.m., upon receiving the North’s message, according to Chun. Operation are to be normalized from 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

Previously, there were inter-Korean hotlines in both the East Sea and West Sea regions.

But Pyongyang severed the West Sea hotline in defiance against the South Korean government’s decision to shut down a joint industrial complex in February 2016.

The East Sea lines have been out of service since cross-border tours to Kumkangsan were suspended in 2008.

The West Sea lines were previously used to alert and provide information for those moving in and out of the joint industrial complex in the border town of Kaesong.

Media here are saying North Korea‘s action hints at its plans to send its Olympics delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month by land.

If a land route across the heavily guarded border is chosen, there should be consultation between military authorities of the two Koreas.

Chun said earlier in the day that North Korea’s Olympic Committee delegation, athletes, supporters, performers, observers, a taekwondo demonstration team and journalists are expected to come to the PyeongChang Games.

North Korea also restored a communication line at Panmunjeom last week after Kim Jong-un expressed willingness to discuss matters concerning the PyeongChang Olympics in his New Year’s address.

By Jung Min-kyung & Joint Press Corps (