North Korea has re-opened a communications hotline between the North and South, which had been severed since August, in a move the South Korean Foreign Ministry called a ‘foundation’ for intra Korean dialogue and peace.
September has been an extremely tension filled month in the Korean Peninsula, with the North testing 4 new missiles, including a hypersonic version of a nuclear capable ballistic missile and one that is able to be launched from a train. Pyongyang also is now able to pre-fuel its missiles, making their launch time shorter, inhibiting missile defence. Further, the hypersonic missile, which is quicker than conventional ballistic missiles, is seen as inhibiting missile defence systems in light of its launch speed of over 8000 km/h. The South also tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in September, which followed joint South Korean-American military exercises in August.
At the UN, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for an end to the now 70-year war in an attempt to spur on denuclearisation. However, this was rebuffed by Pyongyang, which called the move a ‘smokescreen’ to allow the US to continue its troop deployment in the South, and what the North refers to as its ‘hostile’ acts.
Analysts have pointed to the reopening as an attempt by the North to entice the South away from the US, especially in a context wherein South Korea’s president has advocated Korean reunification as a means of peace on the peninsula. Pyongyang will still however require US support for any sanction’s relief, but believes that Seoul can successfully lobby for such.
The two Koreas have been in a state of war since 1950. Following the war in 1953, an armistice was concluded, meaning that the two are still technically at war.
South Korea is home to around 28 000 US troops, with another 50 000 being stationed in Japan. Pyongyang has sought their exit and has continuously threatened South Korea and Japan, which previously colonised part of the peninsula.