Kim Jong Un Can Now Call South Korea's Moon Whenever He Wants

(Bloomberg) -- Hello, Pyongyang. This is Seoul calling.

For the first time since the division of the peninsula, the two Koreas on Friday set up and tested a direct phone line for their leaders, South Korea said. The first call between South Korea President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was expected take place sometime before their historic April 27 meeting, according to Moon’s office.

Kim Jong Un Can Now Call South Korea's Moon Whenever He Wants

Youn Kun Young, director of the South Korean president’s government situation room, said Moon’s office made a four-minute trial call to North Korea’s State Affairs Commission at 3:41 p.m. Seoul time. “It was as clear as a phone call with a neighbor living next door,” Youn said about the call between the capitals about 200 kilometers (124 miles) apart.

And what did representatives for the two long-estranged capitals talk about? The weather, of course. Here’s part of the exchange between aides for Moon and Kim, according to South Korea:

South:“Seoul’s weather is really good today. How’s North?”
North:“Here, too.”
South:“Let’s make an effort to make this fruitful.”
North:“OK. With this, let’s conclude the test call.”

The decision to install the hotline came when Moon’s special envoys met Kim in Pyongyang last month to lay the groundwork for next week’s summit at the border village of Panmunjom. At last month’s meeting, Kim said he was hopeful that complicated conflicts could be resolved over a single phone call with Moon.

Kim Jong Un Can Now Call South Korea's Moon Whenever He Wants

“It’s a very symbolic move and also an effective way to build mutual trust both military- and politics-wise,” said Shin Beomchul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy. “It’ll prevent misunderstanding deriving from lack of communication and promote understanding of the two leaders.”

In addition to several military hotlines, the two Koreas already have 33 active and inactive phone and fax lines, including five at Panmunjom and two for aviation control, according to the Unification Ministry.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.