ROK, DPRK restore military hotline
Updated: 2013-09-06 13:40
SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday restored a military hotline along the west coast to help reopen the Kaesong industrial complex, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.
"Two Koreas agreed yesterday to restore the west-coast military hotline from today," Kim Hyung-seok, Unification Ministry spokesman told a press briefing.
Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to restore the line on Thursday in a subcommittee meeting to discuss restarting the joint factory park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong. The restored line was one of Seoul's preconditions for normalizing the suspended industrial zone for around five months.
After the press briefing, the ministry said by phone that the military hotline was reopened as of 10:51 am local time after testing the telephone lines. A Red Cross hotline in the truce village of Panmunjom was restored in June.
The military hotline, which allowed cross-border travel to and from Kaesong, was cut off by the DPRK in March amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang's third nuclear test the previous month.
Spokesman Kim said that cross-border passage to the Kaesong industrial zone was permitted through the military hotline, which runs 24 hours a day, in the past, noting that the restoration of the line would allow South Korean personnel to stay in the factory park.
The ROK and the DPRK agreed in principle to reopen the inter-Koran factory park in mid-August, but they had yet to discuss detailed conditions for the full reopening date. The two Koreas will hold the second meeting of the Kaesong joint committee on September 10 to discuss when to reopen the park fully.
As for the military hotline in the eastern coast, an official at the Defense Ministry told a separate press briefing that he hasn't heard about it, saying that there were "physical" barriers to reconnect the eastern line damaged by forest fire in the past.
The eastern line was cut off by Pyongyang in 2011 after Seoul halted tours to the Mount Kumgang resort in the DPRK's east coast in 2008 when a ROK female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK solider after venturing into an off-limit area.