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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Behind the Korean Communication 'Hotline'

Michael Day

National governments in Seoul and Pyongyang are back in touch with each other again.

Thirteen months ago, North Korea disconnected the communication ties — while it’s often referred to as a “hotline,” this is not just a single phone connection.

There are several: on the South Korean side, two are run by the military, and two are run by the cabinet-level Unification Ministry.

And the phones are not just for emergency use. Part of the standard procedure is to have two regular calls each day, a practice that South Korean government officials said has already resumed.

A government spokesman said South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have exchanged several letters since April aimed at improving relations.

North Korea’s official media said the restoration of direct communications would have a “positive effect” on the relations between the two countries.

But don’t look for a summit or other dramatic moves anytime soon.

In a symbolic move, the communications agreement was announced on the 68th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

Yonhap News reported there’s also a way to exchange documents between the countries, although not with the latest available technology.

Government officials said the communications deal includes the reconnection of fax machines.

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