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(LEAD) N. Korea remains unresponsive to Seoul's calls after Kim's offer to restore hotlines

All News 17:34 October 01, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with info on afternoon calls in lead, 3rd para)

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea remained unresponsive to South Korea's regular calls via military and liaison hotlines Friday after leader Kim Jong-un offered to restore severed cross-border communication lines in early October.

"North Korea did not answer the opening call through the inter-Korean liaison office at 9 a.m.," a unification ministry official said. The calls through military hotlines also went unanswered, another official said.

North Korea did not pick up afternoon calls at 5 p.m. either, they said.

Leader Kim told a session of the rubber-stamp parliament Wednesday that he will restore cross-border communication lines with South Korea in early October as part of efforts to improve chilled relations, Pyongyang's state media earlier reported Thursday.

North Korea blew up the liaison office in its border town of Kaesong created in 2018 to promote cross-border exchanges and unilaterally cut off all communication lines with South Korea in June last year in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from the South.

The hotlines were back in operation in late July, but the North began refusing Seoul's regular calls again two weeks later as it bristled at joint military drills by South Korea and the U.S. that the North has long denounced as a rehearsal for invasion.

Seoul's unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs earlier said the reactivation of the hotlines will help address a host of pending issues between the two Koreas and expressed hope that the lines if restored will remain in operation in a stable manner going forward.

A South Korean official demonstrates communication with North Korea via an inter-Korean hotline during Unification Minister Lee In-young's visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, 30 kilometers north of Seoul, on Sept. 16, 2020. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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