Published at Wed, 03 Jan 2018 05:38:24 +0000
The country’s leader Kim Jong Un gave the order to open the line at 3.00 p.m local time (1:30 a.m. ET) to begin discussions on sending a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.
It comes just one day after South Korean President Moon Jae-In called for swift measures to smooth North Korea’s participation in the Games.
Kim had said in his New Year’s message that discussions should start “as soon as possible” about sending a North Korean sporting delegation.
In the same address, the North Korean leader also boasted about having a nuclear button on his desk. US President Donald Trump appeared to inflame tensions Tuesday by tweeting that he had a “bigger,” “more powerful” nuclear button than Kim’s.
A South Korean ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday that North Korean officials hadn’t answered the South’s calls on a special direct hotline, positioned in the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, since February 2016 when the South suspended operations at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Moon’s office welcomed the gesture Wednesday and expressed optimism that the Olympic talks would be extended.
“The restoration of the communication channels means a lot. It is assessed that (we) are headed to setting up a structure through which contacts can be made on a regular basis,” said Presidential press secretary, Yoon Young-chan.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification also issued a statement welcoming the North’s response.
“Further procedures regarding inter-Korean government talks proposed yesterday will be discussed through the communications channel,” the statement said.