North Korea’s Kim Open to Restoring Communications With South Korea

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Seoul urged Pyongyang to reopen hotlines; UN Security Council to meet Thursday

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sept. 30 expressed a willingness to restore dormant communications with South Korea, days after Seoul called on Pyongyang to do so.

His remarks come just days after North Korea fired a newly developed hypersonic missile toward the Sea of Japan off its east coast, marking its third weapons test in just over two weeks.

Diplomats said the U.N. Security Council will meet behind closed doors later on Sept. 30 over the reclusive country’s latest test following requests from the United States, Britain, and France.

Restoring Hotlines

State mouthpiece KCNA reported on Sept. 30 that Kim said he was willing to restart cross-border hotlines, which have been largely halted for over a year. He made the remarks at North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament on its second day of discussions.

North Korea had cut the hotlines in early August, just weeks after the two Koreas restored the hotlines on July 27. North Korea’s gesture was in apparent retaliation for joint South Korea–U.S. military drills that started Aug. 10.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, had on Sept. 26 urged North Korea to restore dormant communication channels as a starting point to restart talks on ending the 1950–53 Korean War, which halted in a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.

On Sept. 30, the South Korean ministry welcomed Kim’s remarks on the cross-border communications and said it will prepare for the restoration of the hotlines, which it said are needed to discuss many pending issues. It added that the “stable operation” of the channels is expected.

North Korea previously severed communications in June 2020 following a failed peace summit, after which it blew up an inter-Korean liaison office building just inside its border that was built to improve communications.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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