Seoul: South Korea and North Korea on Friday restored a military hotline to help reopen the Kaesong industrial complex, Seoul`s Unification Ministry said.
"The two Koreas agreed yesterday (Thursday) to restore the west coast military hotline from today (Friday)," Xinhua quoted Kim Hyung-seok, a Unification Ministry spokesman, as saying.
Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to restore the line on Thursday in a subcommittee meeting to discuss restarting the joint factory park in North Korea`s border town of Kaesong. The restored line was one of Seoul`s pre-conditions for normalising the suspended industrial zone for around five months.
The ministry said that the military hotline was reopened as of 10.51 am. A Red Cross hotline in Panmunjom village was restored in June.
The military hotline, which allowed cross-border travel to and from Kaesong, was cut off by North Korea in March amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula following Pyongyang`s third nuclear test.
Spokesman Kim said that cross-border passage to the Kaesong industrial zone was permitted through the military hotline, which ran 24 hours a day in the past, noting that the restoration of the line would allow South Korean personnel to stay in the factory park.
South Korea and North Korea agreed in principle to reopen the inter-Korean factory park in mid-August, but they were yet to discuss detailed conditions for the full reopening date. The two countries will hold the second meeting of the Kaesong joint committee on September 10 to discuss when to reopen the park fully.
As for the military hotline in the eastern coast, an official at the Defence Ministry said at a press briefing that he hasn`t heard about it, saying that there were "physical" barriers to reconnect the eastern line damaged by forest fire in the past.
The eastern line was cut off by Pyongyang in 2011 after Seoul halted tours to the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea`s east coast in 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier after she ventured into an off-limit area.