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(LEAD) Inter-Korean military hotlines in normal operation: defense ministry

All Headlines 16:16 February 07, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS United Nations Command's communication with N. Korea in last 4 paras, photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- Military communication lines between South and North Korea are operating normally, Seoul's defense ministry said Friday, despite stalled inter-Korean relations.

The military authorities of the two Koreas "have had regular telephone calls twice a day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. via their eastern and western military communication lines," ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told reporters.

When necessary, the two sides have spoken to each other through these lines often at various times, the official added.

The military hotlines were restored in the second half of 2018 in line with the April 27 inter-Korean summit declaration calling for joint efforts to alleviate military tensions between the two sides.

At 9 a.m. every day, South and North Korea exchange information regarding illegal fishing by third countries via their maritime communication hotline, which resumed in July 2018 after a decade of suspension.

Such exchanges have been taking place even though inter-Korean ties remain frosty amid scant progress in denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea following the breakdown of the second summit between their leaders in Hanoi in February last year.

This undated file photo shows a South Korean officer using a military hotline with North Korea. According to Seoul officials, during high-level talks on Jan. 9, 2018, North Korea told the South that it recently restored the communication channel, which had been severed for nearly two years. (Yonhap)

On Thursday, the United Nations Command (UNC) posted a Facebook piece about the hotline that directly links it to the North Korean military.

"Batphone? Pink phone of love? It's gone by many names but this device performs the critical function as serving as UNC's direct line-of-communication with the DPRK's Korean People's Army," the command said. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Noting that it uses the line twice daily for communication checks, the UNC said the two sides "exchanged over 130 messages last year with it."

The U.S.-led UNC has played a role as the enforcer of the armistice agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War. It is currently led by U.S. Gen. Robert Abrams.

This photo captured from the United Nations Command's Facebook page and uploaded on Feb. 6, 2020, shows its direct phone line to the North Korean military. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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