While Tuesday’s forward movement in the equation between the two Koreas is critical, there is no indication yet as to when talks between the North and South on matters nuclear will begin… if at all. Both Pyongyang and Seoul are seemingly riveted to communication channels; the inter-Korean military hotlines are back to normal operation after a 13-month suspension, and the two Koreas will resume regular daily calls via the communication lines.
This must rank as a distinct improvement from the weekly calls between the India-Pakistan Directors-General of military operations via the hotline between Delhi and Islamabad, as often as not marked by the alleged exchange of invectives from west of the Radcliffe Line. It sure is an exceptional initiative not the least because the North and South have agreed to reopen all direct communication lines as part of efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.
The message thus conveyed, pre-eminently to the great powers, is that antagonistic nations must keep talking in an essay towards addressing bilateral hiccups. “South and North Korean military authorities restored military communication lines and put them back to normal operations from 10 a.m. on Tuesday, to implement agreements by the leaders,” the South’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced.
Direct communication lines are to be operational at 10 a.m. as part of efforts to improve inter-Korean relations. Phone calls and faxes to exchange documents now operate normally. The restoration comes about 413 days after Pyongyang cut off the lines in June last year in protest against Seoul’s alleged failure to stop activists from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the Communist nation.
Starting Tuesday afternoon, the two sides will also resume their regular phone calls twice a day ~ at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Shipto-ship radio links between the two Koreas, via the global merchant marine communication network, are also operating normally.
The western and eastern military hotlines were set up in 2002 and 2003, respectively. These had been severed for years amid tumultuous inter-Korean ties but were last restored in 2018 in line with the April 27 inter-Korean summit agreement. The ministry said the latest restoration is expected to ease military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to expedite the implementation of a tension reduction agreement signed on 19 September 2018, during a summit held in Pyongyang.
The agreement, called the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), envisages a series of tension-reducing measures, such as a halt to hostile acts against each other and the joint war remains excavation work inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The agreement is a profound development in terms of area studies, a chronic irritant in international relations.