North and South Korea have reestablished an open hotline after two years of suspended communications.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has had a tension-filled relationship with President Donald Trump in the last few months, gave an order to officially open the line to South Korea at 1:30 pm on Wednesday.
Both of the countries contributed to the 20-minute conversation.
“According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, the North Koreans made first contact at exactly the time ordered, and the sides were on the phone from 3:30 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. local time (South Korea is half an hour ahead of North Korea,)” writes CNN. “During the initial 20-minute connection, the two nations “checked technical issues of the communication line,” according to a statement from South Korea’s Unification Ministry.”
Then North Korea called again several hours later.
“The North Korean side called our side at 6:07 p.m. (4.07 a.m. ET) and said ‘let’s call it a day today,'” according to the Unification Ministry.
Testing the connection wasn’t the only goal of initiating the hotline– what else was discussed?
There has been some speculation that the upcoming Winter Olympics taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea was perhaps a topic.
This comes a day before South Korea proposed that North Korea participate in the games after Kim expressed interest in sending a North Korean delegation to compete.
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the Games will be a success,” said Kim in a New Year’s Day speech.
An official meeting has been proposed for January 9 at Panmunjom for North Korea and South Korea to continue the discussion, according to Cho Myoung-gyon, the head of the Unification Ministry.
Seoul has consulted with the U.S. and was given Washington’s blessing to set the meeting.
“By upholding a decision by the leadership, we will make close contact with South Korea in a sincere and faithful manner,” said Ri Son-gwon, a spokesman for the North Korean government, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency. “We will discuss working-level issues over our potential dispatch of the delegation.”
“We will try to keep close communications with the south Korean side from sincere stand and honest attitude, true to the intention of our supreme leadership, and deal with the practical matters related to the dispatch of our delegation,” according to a statement to the Korean Central News Agency.
The statement also said the talks were “the first meaningful and good step for improved north-south relations.”
All of this was occurring while Kim and Trump continued a threatening exchange.
After Kim said that a “nuclear button” is always on his desk on Monday, Trump was quick to respond.
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” tweeted Trump.
The president has also said that Kim’s new interest in communicating with South Korea is part of a ploy to try to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea.
The Trump Administration is “skeptical” of what North Korea’s hidden agenda is.
“We are very skeptical of Kim Jong Un’s sincerity in sitting down and having talks,” said Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman.
The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “our policy hasn’t changed at all,” meaning the U.S. will still be taking a strict stance in regard to North Korea.
Author’s note: North Korea is trying to deliberately snub the U.S. and talk to South Korea. Trump doesn’t seem to care. As long as the talks begin and progress, then we are moving in the right direction and avoiding war. But Trump has made it clear that if missile launches keep happening then we will get involved and military action is still very much on the table.
Editor’s note: Trump’s style of opening negotiations appears to be to keep rattling the cage until something moves. It has been difficult, but perhaps the movement now means something.