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Monday, December 4, 2023

The US and North Korea don’t have any diplomatic ties — however they nonetheless have methods to speak about US soldier

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SEOUL, South Korea — A pink cellphone. A New York mission. Swedish diplomats. A North-South Korean hotline.

The US and reclusive North Korea don’t have any diplomatic ties — however they nonetheless have methods to contact one another. An American official stated Wednesday that the U.S. authorities had reached out to the North because it tries to debate a U.S. soldier who dashed into North Korea throughout a tour of a border space this week. The North has not but responded, in accordance with the U.S.

Here is a take a look at potential channels the rivals may use to debate Pvt. Travis King, the primary American held in North Korea in almost 5 years.



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One of the dependable methods for the U.S. to succeed in North Korea is by way of a light-weight pink-colored, touch-tone cellphone on the U.S.-led U.N. Command on the Korean border village of Panmunjom, the place the place King bolted into the North on Tuesday. The phone line connects the liaison officers from both sides — whose workplaces are reportedly solely 40 meters (130 ft) aside.

State Division spokesperson Matthew Miller stated Wednesday that the Pentagon reached out to its counterparts within the North’s Korean Folks’s Military however “these communications haven’t but been answered.”

Miller didn’t elaborate. However observers say the U.S. seemingly used the “pink cellphone.”

In January, the U.N. Command tweeted that it had maintained “24/7/365” contact with the North’s military all through 2022.

“Speaking by way of the ‘pink cellphone,’ we handed 98 messages & held twice-daily line checks for well timed & significant info trade,” it stated.

Moon Seong Mook, a retired South Korean brigadier normal, stated North Korean liaison officers seem to not be answering the calls made by the U.N. Command on the order of their higher-ups.

When North Korea beforehand suspended that phone line, U.N. officers used a megaphone, Moon stated.

The precise motive for King’s border crossing is unclear. He was convicted of assault in South Korea and might be discharged from the navy and face different potential penalties.



Miller stated the U.S. retains various channels to ship messages to North Korea.

A kind of is North Korea’s mission to the U.N. in New York that has offered a back-channel negotiation choice for the 2 international locations, serving as a type of substitute embassy since they do not have embassies in one another’s capitals.

The mission performed an necessary position in figuring out particulars for the high-stakes summitry between North Korean chief Kim Jong Un and then-U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018-19. Firstly of their second summit in Vietnam, each Kim and Trump stated they supported the opening of a U.S. liaison workplace in Pyongyang, however the thought was shelved after their diplomacy broke down.



Sweden, which does have relations with the North and an embassy in Pyongyang, has provided consular providers for U.S. residents, together with those that had been detained in North Korea on prices of illegally getting into the nation or partaking in espionage acts.

Miller stated State Division officers have reached out to Sweden on King’s case.

However a mediator position for Sweden might be sophisticated by the truth that its diplomats based mostly in Pyongyang reportedly haven’t returned to the North since leaving the nation as a consequence of its extreme COVID-19 restrictions in 2020. Nonetheless, consultants say the North’s Embassy in Sweden might be a channel for communications



The rival Koreas have a set of cellphone and fax channels of their very own to arrange conferences, prepare border crossings and keep away from unintentional navy clashes. However North Korea has been unresponsive to South Korean makes an attempt to trade messages by way of these channels since April at a time of heightened animosities over the North’s nuclear program.

Kim Yeol Soo, an professional at South Korea’s Korea Institute for Navy Affairs, stated communication may occur by way of a hotline between the 2 Koreas’ spy businesses. That line was reportedly beforehand energetic when others stalled. South Korea’s International Ministry stated Thursday that Seoul and Washington have been involved, with out elaborating.



Kim, the professional, stated North Korea gained’t reply to the U.S. outreach till it completes its investigation of King, and that can seemingly take at the very least two weeks. After the investigation, he stated {that a} protracted negotiation between the U.S. State Division and the North Korean International Ministry is anticipated.

Whereas King’s custody may present North Korea with a software to wrest diplomatic concessions from the U.S., the nation would additionally discover it troublesome to detain a low-ranking solider with out a lot high-profile intelligence on the U.S. for an prolonged interval, Moon stated.

“If he expresses his hopes to return house, it might be burdensome for North Korea to carry him however they’d nonetheless attempt to attain a cope with the U.S. to get what it desires,” Moon, now an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Analysis Institute for Nationwide Technique, stated.

Previously, North Korea launched U.S. civilian detainees after high-profile People corresponding to former presidents travelled to Pyongyang to win their freedoms. Kim stated comparable steps might be required in King’s case.

King’s entry to North Korea is a humiliation to the U.S., stated Chun In-bum, a retired lieutenant normal who commanded South Korea’s particular forces, noting that it got here the identical day that the USA took main steps towards boosting its safety dedication to South Korea. It deployed a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the primary time in 4 many years and held the inaugural assembly of a bilateral nuclear consultative physique with South Korea. North Korea test-fired two missiles on Wednesday, apparently in response.

“The information of the nuclear submarine and the nuclear consultative physique have been each buried by him,” stated Chun.

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