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North Korea Reopens Communications Hotline With South Korea

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SEOUL—North Korea reopened direct communication lines with South Korea, raising the prospect that the Kim Jong Un regime could be ready for engagement after a protracted period of diplomatic silence.

The cross-border phone line was activated at 10 a.m. Tuesday local time, the two Koreas said in separate announcements. Pyongyang had severed all communication with the Seoul government since June 2020, after Kim Yo Jong, the dictator’s sister, condemned South Korean activists for sending antiregime leaflets over the border.

By reopening the communication lines, Mr. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are making a “big stride” to reconcile and restore mutual trust between the two countries, North Korea’s state media said.

“The two leaders agreed to revive trust and advance the inter-Korean relationship as soon as possible,” according to a statement from South Korea’s presidential Blue House. North Korea’s announcement read similarly.

North Korea is facing severe challenges on the home front—with Mr. Kim calling the current times the country’s worst-ever crisis. The country sealed off its borders over Covid-19 fears, undercutting cross-border trade with China. Warnings of food shortages have become more prominent. Without nuclear talks, Pyongyang can’t shed sanctions that have weighed on the economy.

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