Hotline Between Two Koreas: Status, Limitations and Future Tasks
Revised March 6, 2021
Seung-Chan Boo is a spokesperson for the ROK Ministry of National Defense. He co-authored this article as a research fellow of the Institute for North Korean Studies, Yonsei University, before he joined the ministry.
Chung-in Moon is the Chair of the Sejong Institute, vice-chair of the APLN and a distinguished university professor of Yonsei University. He served as special advisor to the ROK President for Unification, Foreign and Security Affairs (May 2017- Feb. 2021).
The Korean conflict has been one of the most protracted in the world, lasting more than 70 years. Despite the heightened tension, there was no channel of communication between the North and the South. It was only on September 22, 1971, that the first hotline between the two Koreas was installed at the Panmunjom—26 years after the telephone line between Seoul and Haeju was cut off by the former Soviet army immediately after liberation on August 26, 1945.
Since 1971, a total of 50 lines were open, including a hotline between leaders of the two Koreas as well as military and intelligence communication lines. But North Korea suddenly cut off all communications with the South with the exception of that between the United Nations Command (UNC) and North Korea military. Nevertheless, they proved to be useful tools for confidence-building measures to improve inter-Korean communication, to facilitate exchanges and cooperation, including inter-Korean official talks, and to assist the promotion of humanitarian aid. More importantly, they have served as an effective mechanism for the prevention of accidental military clashes through a timely exchange of information. This paper presents a brief historical overview of hotlines between the two Koreas, examines their present status, and elucidates limitations and future tasks.
The Korean conflict, confidence-building measures, inter-Korea hotlines, Cata-links.
NOTE: RECNA publishes this paper as a special Working Paper with a permission from the Nautilus Institute.
Full text (PDF) is here.