In a move that was inconceivable 50 years ago during the Korea War, North and South Korea have opened a liaison office to handle affairs between both countries for the first time since the end of World War II.
The liaison office for the sister nations was opened on the North’s side of the heavily militarised border to facilitate communication and exchanges ahead of a summit between the leaders of the North and the South in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, next week.
Friday’s opening of the office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong is the latest in a series of reconciliatory steps the Koreas have taken this year.
Prior to this time, the line of communication between both Koreas had been by telephone and radio messages which are often suspended anytime tensions escalated between the North and the South over the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the office, South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said;
“We’ll sit face to face, exchange our thoughts fast and accurately and put our heads together to resolve difficult matters, the office will become the “cradle of Korean co-prosperity.”
His words were echoed by his Northern counterpart, Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, who also the new liaison office would help both Koreas have frank conversations and also strengthen ties between them.
15 to 20 South Koreans are expected to work at the office with lodging facilities at nearby Kaesong during the weekdays while they take turns staffing the office on weekends.
The same number of North Koreans are expected to work in the same office where both teams, are expected to handle various inter-Korean issues, exchange messages between their capitals and facilitate civilian exchange programmes.
The office will be supervised by the South Korean Unification Vice Minister Chun Hae-sung alongside a deputy head of the North Korean Unification committee; They are expected to have an official meeting once a week.