North and South Korea have restored cross-
border communications, with officials exchanging their first phone call
Monday after dropping them in August.
The restoration comes just days after Pyongyang sparked international
concern with a string of missile tests in the span of a few weeks, prompting
the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting.
The two Koreas had signalled a surprise thaw in relations in late July by
announcing the resumption of cross-border communications -- severed more than
a year earlier -- but the detente was short-lived, as North Korea stopped
answering calls just two weeks later.
Seoul's unification ministry confirmed officials from the two rivals
exchanged their first phone call since August on Monday morning.
The South's defence ministry meanwhile confirmed that cross-border
military communications have also resumed.
"With the restoration of the South-North communication line, the
government evaluates that a foundation for recovering inter-Korean relations
has been provided," the unification ministry said in a statement.
"The government hopes... to swiftly resume dialogue and begin practical
discussions for recovering inter-Korean relations."
Earlier Monday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had "expressed the
intention of restoring the cut-off north-south communication lines", North
Korea's official news agency KCNA said.
It reported that the move was an attempt to establish "lasting peace" on
the Korean peninsula.
But an analyst played down Monday's restoration as a "symbolic" gesture,
noting the North's recent missile launches.
"Even if this leads to talks, we may enter a new phase where North Korea
engages in dialogue but continues to carry out provocations simultaneously,"
said Park Won-gon, a professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans