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North Korea Hasn’t Answered The South’s Calls In Well Over A Year

REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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South Korea reportedly calls its northern neighbor every single day, but no one is picking up the phone.

Officials from the South Korean Ministry of Unification visit the border town of Panmunjom on a daily basis, making calls into North Korea once in the morning and once in the afternoon, according to the Associated Press.

The South has been calling for a year and a half, but no one in the North has answered.

The liberal South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in has thrown its support behind a strategy of pressure and engagement, which involves putting diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea in order to bring the regime back to the negotiating table. The administration has offered to hold military talks and Red Cross discussions, but neither have yielded fruit.

The Moon administration is putting emphasis on reuniting families torn apart by the war, but North Korea has ignored the South’s requests on this particular issue. Not only has Pyongyang dismissed South Korean overtures, but the North has become increasingly threatening and provocative.

North Korea recently threatened to obliterate the South Korean traitors with fire.

“You need both hands to clap and North Korea isn’t responding at all,” Baik Tae-hyun, a spokesman for the Ministry of Unification, explained recently, “But it won’t be like this forever. There were times in the past when it took a long time, a year or two, for relations to thaw after periods of animosity.”

The South Korean Ministry of Unification played a significant role in shaping bilateral relations between the two Koreas around the turn of the century, when North and South Korea met at a major summit, temporarily increasing stability on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear power and aggressive ballistic missile testing, together with hard-line conservative policies in South Korea, led to a deterioration in inter-Korean relations and an increase in animosity. The return of a liberal government earlier this year had some convinced that improved relations might be a real possibility, but that hope is fading.

Moon, who was critical of his conservative predecessors, has acknowledged that talks are currently impossible because of frequent North Korean provocations, such as the recent test of a staged thermonuclear weapon. South Korea is also in the process of boosting its defenses, such as moving ahead on the deployment of anti-missile systems and increasing the weight of the warheads on South Korea’s longer-range missiles.

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