SEOUL – North Korea announced on Wednesday that it will reopen a communications channel with the South, part of its willingness to resume dialogue, as expressed by its leader in his New Year’s address.
Pyongyang will resume its use of the telephone hotline at 3:00 pm, according to North Korean state radio.
The announcement was made a day after Seoul proposed that the two countries meet for high level talks on Jan. 9, to discuss Pyongyang’s possible participation in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
In his New Year’s address on Monday, leader Kim Jong-un said that he was open to dialogue with South Korea over sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea between Feb. 9-25.
“By upholding a decision by the leadership, we will make close contact with South Korea in a sincere and faithful manner. We will discuss working-level issues over our potential dispatch of the delegation,” said Ri Son-gwon, head of North Korea’s agency handling inter-Korean affairs, as reported by South Korean news agency Yonhap.
However, Ri did not say if North Korea would accept the offer to hold talks on Jan. 9, or if the conversations would be limited to the hotline, which has been out of order for over two years and was the only communications channel between the two countries.
“I believe it signals a move toward an environment where communication will be possible at all times,” South Korean chief presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan told reporters in Seoul, according to Yonhap.
If the high level talks do take place, they will be the first of their kind in more than two years between the countries, who have been at war for more than 65 years, and will take place after a year of heightened tensions due to constant weapons tests by Pyongyang.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried, since he came to power in May 2017, to establish friendlier relations between the two countries through dialogue and has insisted that Pyongyang participate in the Games.