KCNA | Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in an unknown location in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 15, 2017.
South Korean officials no longer have to use a bullhorn to communicate messages to their reclusive neighbor to the North.
A direct phone line was installed and tested Friday, connecting South Korea’s Blue House, the official residence and office of President Moon Jae-in, and the North’s State Affairs Commission, where leader Kim Jong Un’s power is consolidated.
“The call quality was very good and we felt like we got a call from our next-door neighbor,” South Korea’s director for the Government Situation Room, Youn Kun-young, told reporters after the four-minute call.
The hotline also reportedly features a screen for video chats as well as a fax system.
The move signals a reduction in tensions on the Korean peninsula ahead of next week’s face-to-face summit, the first since 2007, between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea.
Notably, the April 27 meeting is set to take place in the South Korean village of Panmunjom, which would make Kim the first North Korean leader to cross the 38th parallel since the Korean War.
“This direct line between ROK and DPRK senior leaders greatly reduces any chance of miscommunication that might lead to unnecessarily provocative actions,” retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a senior defense fellow for Defense Priorities, told CNBC.
Davis, who served as an advisor to the Second Republic of Korea Army during his military career, noted that the meeting between the two Koreas sets a groundwork for a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim.