North and South Korea opened new, updated military hot lines Wednesday to help facilitate border crossings, another sign of renewing cooperation between the divided countries, an official said.
Military officials from the two Koreas communicated through new fiber-optic cables to help facilitate the travel of 330 South Koreans heading to an industrial complex in the North on Wednesday, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said.
South Korea has sent fiber-optic cables and other equipment to the North to help its communist neighbor modernize its military hot lines with the South, she said.
The two Koreas are still technically at war because their 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Their relations soured badly after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008 with a tough policy on the North, with their navies engaging in a brief-yet-bloody battle last month.
Earlier this month, however, South Korea sent swine flu medicines to North Korea in its first humanitarian aid to the North since Lee's inauguration. The North made a rare expression of gratitude for the aid.
The North also resumed dialogue with the U.S. after President Barack Obama's special envoy visited Pyongyang earlier this month in a bid to persuade the North to return to stalled international nuclear disarmament talks.
The new hot lines replaced outdated copper cable hot lines that will remain as spare lines, said Lee, the spokeswoman.
The new hot lines will serve as a key mode of communication for border crossings for people traveling to and from the joint industrial complex at the North Korean border town of Kaesong, she added.
The complex, which combines South Korean capital and technology with cheap North Korean labor, is the most prominent symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. About 110 South Korean factories employ some 40,000 North Korean workers there.