Preparations for the April 27 summit between leaders of North and South Korea are underway, and include making it easier for the two men to call each other up.
On April 20, a direct phone connection between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in was successfully tested, Reuters reports. The line was laid between South Korea’s Blue House, the presidential residence, and North Korea’s state affairs commission, and was tested by officials for a few minutes before the two leaders spoke.
South Korea noted that the quality of the connection was very good. “We felt like we got a call from our next-door neighbor,” said Youn Kun-young, who directs the South Korean government’s situation room.
The idea of installing a direct line between the nations’ leaders was initially circulated at the first Korean summit in 2000, and Moon’s “Sunshine policy” to ease relations with the North already relies on telephone diplomacy. Before the new setup—it reportedly includes a phone, fax machine, and internet connection with video chat—communications between the two countries required going through a hot line in the security area of border village Panmunjom. That hot line was reopened this year, Reuters reports, after two years of being disconnected. During that time, cross-border communication sometimes took the form of shouting through bull horns.