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N. Korea unresponsive to S. Korea's call for reopening military hotline

Defense 11:05 September 28, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- An inter-Korean military communication line remained inoperative as of Monday morning, the defense ministry said, a day after South Korea called for reopening the line for communication related to a proposed joint probe into North Korea's killing of a South Korean fisheries official.

On Sunday, South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae urged the North to restore the military hotline for communication about Seoul's proposal to conduct a joint investigation into the North's killing of the fisheries official drifting in its waters.

"With regard to the military communication line, it has not been restored yet," deputy ministry spokesperson Col. Moon Hong-sik said during a regular press briefing.

South Korea believes that a joint probe with the North is necessary because there are key discrepancies between the two sides as to what happened to the ill-fated official, including whether his body was set on fire.

The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff announced Thursday that the official in charge of overseeing fishing activities had been shot dead by the North's troops after crossing the sea border and that the North's military set his body on fire.

North Korea confirmed the killing of the "intruder" in a message to the South the following day, but it said what they set on fire was a floating material that carried the official, not his body.

The military hotline has been out of operation since North Korea severed all inter-Korean communication lines in June in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by activists here.

Previously, the military authorities of the two Koreas had regular telephone calls twice a day -- at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. -- via their eastern and western communication lines.

A South Korean fishing boat leaves the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Sept. 26, 2020. A South Korean official was killed by North Korean soldiers in the North's waters near the de facto maritime border on Sept. 22. (Yonhap)


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