The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae announced Monday to restore the communication hotline that was cut off by North Korea last month in a bid to improve bilateral relations. It was Seoul’s call for having its precondition met first before renewing the inter-Korean dialogue by restoring the hotline, but the North didn’t respond to the South’s attempt at a dialogue on Monday morning.
“Pyongyang’s answer to the call for the restoration might serve as a barometer on whether the regime is willing to mend the fence with the South,” said Park Soo-hyeon, the senior presidential secretary for public communication. “The minimum scenario for rapprochement would be to have the North respond to the unification ministry’s proposal and open up the first phase of negotiation by pushing for conversations through various channels.”
About the terms such as “rescinding the policy in the even of hostility” and “mutual respect” found in the statements issued by Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on Friday and Saturday, Secretary Park evaluated them to be rather ambiguous, far from the specific demands that the communist regime would often make in the past, adding, “All in all, the North appears to be more proactive than before in hinting at the possibility of dialogue.” But experts say it won’t be easy for the White House or Cheong Wa Dae to accept Kim Yo Jong’s demands as they are all directly linked to the withdrawal of America’s strategic military assets, termination of ROK-US joint military exercises, and the lifting of sanctions on North Korea.
As to the peace declaration President Moon Jae-in made during his United Nations keynote speech, Park said the government’s analysis holds that Washington is emanating a positive attitude and China is also positive. “Inter-Korean relations and U.S.-North Korea relations have a functional relationship,” he said. “Rather than rushing into the agenda of inter-Korean summit, Seoul is closely monitoring the relations between Washington and Pyongyang.
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