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Koreas re-establish hotline communication after yearlong vacuum

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South and North Korea reopened their hotlines on Tuesday after a yearlong communications vacuum that had flared tensions and soured relations.

At least 49 hotlines have been set up between the two Koreas since the 1970s, and Seoul sees them as a crucial tool to prevent misunderstandings from unexpected military developments, especially along their shared heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ).

The lines were also meant to arrange diplomatic meetings, coordinate air and sea traffic, facilitate humanitarian discussions, minimise impacts from natural disasters and cooperate on economic issues.

But the isolated North has often cut the channels in times of strained ties, especially when negotiations aimed at dismantling its nuclear and missile programmes collapsed.

North Korea severed the hotlines on June 9, 2020, in the wake of a failed February 2019 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump, which South Korean President Moon Jae-in had offered to mediate.

South Korea had nonetheless kept trying to call every day at the same times, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.