Now, we’re taking you to the tense border that divides North and South Korea, where a simple phone call might have changed the whole atmosphere.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Somewhere in the border village of Panmunjom is a hotline, and a settlement that spans both North and South Korea within the DMZ, one of the most heavily guarded borders on earth. It’s official title, the Panmunjom communications channel, a political lifeline between the two Koreas that is still technically at war.
This view from the South Korean side, the green phone to call the North, the red to receive calls from the North. Different time zones for each state above the phone, half an hour divides the neighbors and a sign that reads, South/North direct phone.
The buildings on either side of the border, where the phones are located are only about 18 meters away from each other.
(on camera): South Korea says that the first two channels were connected in 1971, and they now have 33 different communication channels. But North Korea hadn’t responded to them since February 2016.
The South Koreans say that they had two liaison officers who called every day at 9:00 a.m. when they got to work and then again at 4:00 p.m., just before they left work. And they sat by the phone all day in case it rang.
JOHN DELURY, YONSEI UNIVERSITY: It’s not a matter of who initiates what, it’s that they get a positive dynamic going and that’s what we’re seeing now. It’s not about North calling South and South calling the North. The two are sending positive signals back and forth, and they’re creating momentum which can lead to some breakthroughs.
HANCOCKS: The hotline is sparking much interests, most notably for its apparent use of Windows XP. South Korean officials declined to comment on that, but it is simply a means to an end.
Paul Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.