A week before the scheduled summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, their respective nations established a hotline allowing direct communication between the two leaders. It is the first time the leaders of the two Koreas have been able to communicate directly with each other.
The hotline was tested with a phone call lasting four minutes and 17 seconds on Friday. A South Korean official remarked that the audio quality was comparable to “talking to a neighbor right next door.”
The telephone line technically connects South Korea’s presidential Blue House with the State Affairs Commission in Pyongyang, a body that Kim Jong-un formally chairs. The South Korean end of the line is an ordinary-looking white office-style telephone.
Moon and Kim are expected to hold at least one telephone conversation before they meet in person at a village on the border between the two countries on April 27. The meeting will be only the third summit between the two Korean governments since the effective conclusion of the Korean War in 1953. The war is technically still in progress, a matter Moon and Kim are widely expected to discuss in depth when they meet.
South Korean officials expressed hope that the leadership hotline will remain active after a successful meeting between Moon and Kim. A hotline between lower-ranking officials from the two countries was reactivated in January after two years of limited formal communication between Seoul and Pyongyang.