North and South Korea restore communication channels after a year

North and South Korea have restored communication channels and agreed to improve ties after the hotline between the two countries was cut off by Pyongyang last June. 

“Now, the whole Korean nation desires to see the North-South relations recovered from setback and stagnation as early as possible,” North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency said. “In this regard, the top leaders of the North and the South agreed to make a big stride in recovering the mutual trust and promoting reconciliation.”

Communication was severed last year after a failed summit and amid a stalemate in the U.S.-led diplomatic effort to limit Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons. Tensions worsened after defector groups in the South floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged several personal letters since April, according to Moon’s office, the Associated Press reported.

North and South Korea remain technically at war, after the Korean War in 1953 ended with an armistice agreement, not a peace treaty. South Korea is a U.S. ally, and over 28,000 American troops are stationed in the country, the AP reported.

Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University, told the news agency that the restored communication channels probably wouldn’t lead to any major changes in the near-term.

“North Korea knows it has to sit down for talks with the Biden administration one day. It thinks South Korea still has an effective value … to make Biden move,” Nam said. “North Korea can also build up an (international image) that it’s willing to continue dialogue” with the outside world.