S. Korea on Daily Phone Call to North: They Didn't Pick Up

First time since joint liaison office opened in 2018 that one of 2 daily phone calls was dissed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2020 7:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea and South Korea have two daily phone calls: one at 9am and one at 5pm, no matter what, as part of an initiative that began in 2018 to keep communication flowing and ease tensions between the two nations. But on Monday, the former didn't pick up when the latter called the joint liaison office, at least in the morning—and there's been no explanation why, Bloomberg reports. Per the South Korean Unification Ministry, it was the first time such a call to the office wasn't answered. "We will continue to do what we can do to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula," a ministry spokesman said after the morning call went nowhere. Then the North did pick up for the afternoon call as if nothing had happened.

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The BBC notes the office in the North's border city of Kaesong has physically been shuttered since January due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the two countries have still maintained their daily phone calls. However, the dissed/missed call didn't come totally out of the blue. Last week, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, denounced South Korean activists and defectors from her country who've been sending balloons with anti-North messages back over the border, threatening to take several retaliatory steps in response, including pulling out of the joint liaison office. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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