North and South Korea agree to restore communication channels, improve ties

WION Web Team
NEW DELHIUpdated: Jul 27, 2021, 08:26 AM IST


Story highlights

North Korea announced on June 9, 2020 that it was cutting off all communications with South Korea in retaliation for activist defectors who have escaped to the South and routinely fly propaganda leaflets back across the border.

The leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to resume suspended communication lines and enhance ties, according to South Korea.

President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un achieved such an agreement, according to the presidential office in Seoul, following multiple rounds of letter exchanges since April. 

Last month marked one year since the cross-border communication lines were suspended.

On June 16 last year, the North vowed to cut off all contact links with the South and even blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong in outrage over anti-Pyongyang propaganda pamphlets coming from the South. 

Watch | Gravitas Plus: How did North Korea become the world's most isolated country?

In response to activist defectors who have gone to the South and often launch balloons back over the border with propaganda pamphlets, North Korea had stated it was stopping relations at the time. 

Communications lines between the Koreas have been cut and restored during previous periods of tension.

Last month, a South Korean ministry official said that "The inter-Korean communication channel must be immediately restored without any conditions... we urge North Korea to restore the inter-Korean communication lines. The inter-Korean communication channel is the most fundamental means of communication, and the two Koreas have agreed to maintain such a channel several times, ".

The Korean conflict has lasted more than 70 years, making it one of the world's longest.

Despite the increased tensions, there was no way for the North and the South to communicate. 

The first hotline between the two Koreas was installed at Panmunjom on September 22, 1971, 26 years after the former Soviet army shut off the telephone line between Seoul and Haeju shortly after liberation on August 26, 1945. 

A total of 50 lines have been open since 1971, including a hotline between the two Koreas' presidents, as well as military and intelligence contact lines. 

(With inputs from agencies)