North, South Korea Establish Contact on Long-dormant Hotline

North Korea and South Korea established contact for a short phone call on a hotline that’s been dormant for almost two years, reports Westwood One, a major diplomatic breakthrough following a year of escalating hostility that could pave the way for future talks. The country’s leader Kim Jong Un gave the order to open the line at 3.00 p.m local time, 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time, according to an announcement on state media in the hours before the call. According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, the North Koreans made the call at exactly the time ordered, and the sides were on the phone from 3:30 p.m. local to 3:50 p.m. local time (South Korea is half an hour ahead of North Korea). During the 20-minute conversation, the two nations “checked technical issues of the communication line,’ according to a statement from South Korea’s Unification Ministry. The ministry said it was waiting for a possible second call from North Korea on the Panmunjom hotline, as there was a chance they could call again during working hours. Contact had been initiated after Kim expressed hope that a North Korean delegation may participate in next month’s Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea. The call came just hours after a tweet from US President Donald Trump,taunting the North Korean leader, this time with a boast about the size of his nuclear button. During Kim’s New Year’s Day address, the North Korean leader had claimed he had a nuclear button of his own on the desk of his office.