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N. Korea remains unresponsive to S. Korea's hotline calls even after summertime joint exercise wraps up

An inter-Korean liaison office on the South Korean side (Yonhap)
An inter-Korean liaison office on the South Korean side (Yonhap)
North Korea did not answer liaison calls from South Korea on Friday morning, a unification ministry official said, dashing hopes Pyongyang could pick up the phone now that joint military exercises between the South and the United States are over.

The calls via the inter-Korean liaison office went unanswered at 9 a.m., the official said. North Korea also refused to respond to the military communication channels in the eastern and western border regions.

The inter-Korean communication lines were restored late last month following a yearlong severance after President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to improve their chilled ties amid little progress in nuclear negotiations.

For two weeks, however, the North has not answered daily phone calls in apparent protest against the joint drills.

Observers earlier had raised the possibility that the North might respond to the hotline calls after the military exercise.

When the North previously cut the military hotline and restricted travel to the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in 2009, it restored the inter-Korean military communication channels shortly after the South Korea-US joint drills ended.

The ministry will continue attempting to hold regular phone calls twice a day, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Yonhap)