Summary of inter-Korean news this week

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) — The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

Koreas reopen severed cross-border hotlines: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — The two Koreas on Tuesday reopened direct cross-border communication lines that Pyongyang severed last year in protest of propaganda leaflets coming in from the South, Cheong Wa Dae said, a positive sign for an improvement in the inter-Korean relationship.

Park Soo-hyun, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for public communication, announced that Seoul and Pyongyang decided to resume communications via their direct hotlines starting at 10 a.m.

The resumption of inter-Korean communications was a result of an agreement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Cheong Wa Dae explained.

N. Korea says restoration of cross-border hotline will play positive role in improving relations

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — North Korea said Tuesday that the restoration of communication lines with South Korea will play a positive role in improving relations between the two sides after the severed lines returned to operation after a 13-month suspension.

“Now, the whole Korean nation desires to see the North-South relations recovered from setback and stagnation as early as possible,” the official Korean Central News Agency said, confirming that all inter-Korean communication liaison lines were restored as of 10 a.m.

“The top leaders of the North and the South agreed to make a big stride in recovering the mutual trust and promoting reconciliation by restoring the cutoff inter-Korean communication liaison lines through the recent several exchanges of personal letters,” the KCNA said.

Inter-Korean military hotlines in normal operation after 13-month suspension: defense ministry

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — Inter-Korean military hotlines are back to normal operation after a 13-month suspension, the defense ministry confirmed Tuesday, saying the two Koreas will resume regular daily calls via the communication lines.

Earlier in the day, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the North’s Korean Central News Agency announced that the two sides agreed to reopen all direct communication lines from 10 a.m. as part of efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.

“South and North Korean military authorities restored military communication lines and put them back to normal operations from 10 a.m. Tuesday, to implement agreements by the leaders,” the ministry said in a release. “Phone calls and faxing to exchange documents now operate normally.”

Cheong Wa Dae says no plan yet to send special envoy to N. Korea

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — The office of President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday it has no plan, for now, to dispatch a special envoy to North Korea.

It cited “realistic restraints” attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae announced the reopening of direct communication lines between the two Koreas that were severed in June last year.

Koreas hold daily liaison phone call after restoring communication lines

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) — South and North Korea held their daily liaison phone call on Wednesday, the unification ministry said, a day after Pyongyang restored inter-Korean communication lines after a 13-month suspension.

Four hotlines were restored Tuesday after the North cut them off in June last year in protest of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets coming in from the South. At the time, the North also blew up a joint liaison office in anger as well.

On Wednesday, the two sides held phone calls via liaison and military hotlines.

Cheong Wa Dae says no talks held yet on inter-Korean summit

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) — The office of President Moon Jae-in dismissed a news report Wednesday that the two Koreas are in talks to arrange another summit.

Quoting unnamed government sources, Reuters reported that the two sides are seeking to hold summit talks between Moon and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un. One of the sources was quoted as adding that a virtual summit could be an option due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The foreign news report is not true,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in a brief statement. “There has been no (relevant) discussion.”

S. Korea to raise N. Korea’s killing of fisheries official through restored communication lines

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea will use the now-restored communication lines with North Korea to raise the issue of the North’s killing of a South Korean fisheries official near the inter-Korean sea border, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Lee Rae-jin, the brother of the deceased official, urged the ministry to push ahead with a meeting with North Korean authorities and to deliver his letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un asking for cooperation so that he could visit the North to find the truth behind the killing.

“Now that the inter-Korean communication lines have been restored, the government will make efforts to discuss this issue with the North from now on,” the ministry said.

S. Korea to discuss with N.K. ways to hold virtual inter-Korean talks via restored hotlines

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) — South Korea is planning to use the restored communication lines with North Korea to discuss ways to hold virtual inter-Korean talks amid the global pandemic, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

Four hotlines were restored Tuesday nearly 14 months after the North cut them off in June last year in protest of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets coming in from the South.

“Considering the special circumstance of the coronavirus pandemic, we plan to discuss with the North holding a virtual conference, or safe ways to hold in-person talks, so that the restored inter-Korean communication lines can lead to the resumption of talks,” the ministry official said.

Seoul to push for video-linked family reunion as priority project with North: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) — The government will push for a video-linked reunion of divided families with North Korea as the most urgent inter-Korean project, Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.

A presidential official made the remark when asked to comment on speculation that the government is seeking a video-linked reunion event with the North, following Tuesday’s restoration of communication lines between the two Koreas.

“It is an issue agreed upon by the leaders of South and North Korea, and (video reunions are) the most effective way to immediately move forward in the face of the coronavirus situation,” the official said.

S. Korea proposes talks with N. Korea about setting up video conferencing system: minister

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) — South Korea has conveyed a proposal to North Korea, through a recently restored liaison hotline, to discuss ways to set up a virtual conference system for inter-Korean talks, Unification Minister Lee In-young said Friday.

The proposal was made Thursday via the hotline restored Tuesday after nearly 14 months of suspension, and the North received a document containing the South’s offer, he said.

“Yesterday, we proposed discussing the issue of setting up the system for virtual talks through our liaison office and the North has received a document of our proposal,” Lee told reporters during a press conference in Seoul.