≡ N. Korea Reopens Communication Hotline With South
South and North Korea have reopened a cross-border communication channel that was cut off for nearly two years.
Seoul's unification ministry said they received a call via the hotline around 3:30 p.m. yesterday.
The two sides spoke for 20 minutes to test the phone and fax lines and ensure they were still functioning properly.
It marked the first contact 23 months after Pyongyang disabled the line in protest of Seoul's unilateral shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
North Korea announced earlier in the day that leader Kim Jong-un ordered officials to reopen the channel.
Cheong Wa Dae welcomed the move, calling it a significant step toward direct, frequent dialogue between the divided Koreas.■[2018.01.04]
≡ UN Chief Welcomes Reopening Of Inter-Korean Hotline
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the reopening of the inter-Korean communication channel.
He said Wednesday that he hopes such initiatives will help end the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking in a briefing in New York, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said it is always a positive development to have dialogue between the two countries.
He added that the U.N. remains committed to ensuring the implementation of Security Council resolutions on North Korea's denuclearization.■
≡ Majority Of S. Koreans Support N. Korea At Olympics: Survey
A new tbs survey shows that eight out of 10 people in South Korea are in favor of North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to improve inter-Korean relations.
Realmeter conducted a phone poll on over 500 adults nationwide, yesterday, and found 76.7 percent of respondents back the move.
Those against it stood at 20.3 percent, citing the need to further strengthen sanctions and pressure on the regime.
Opinion was in favor of the North's Olympic attendance across all age groups, regions and party lines, except those for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
The survey had a response rate of 6 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.■
≡ Two Opposition Lawmakers Arrested Over Bribery, Illegal Political Funds
Two Liberty Korea Party lawmakers are under arrest for allegedly taking bribes and illegal political funds under the previous Park Geun-hye administration.
Early this morning, the Seoul Central District Court approved arrest warrants for Representatives Choi Kyung-hwan and Lee Woo-hyun, noting there is considerable reason to believe they committed the alleged crimes and could possibly flee or destroy evidence.
Choi is accused of accepting 100 million won from the National Intelligence Service in 2014 when he served as deputy prime minister and finance minister.
Lee is suspected of receiving about one billion won in illegal political funds from local business people in return for favors.
Both lawmakers have denied the charges.
They are the first sitting lawmakers to be arrested under the Moon Jae-in government.■
≡ S. Korea's Foreign Exchange Reserves Hit Record High
South Korea's foreign exchange reserves hit a record high last month thanks to the weakening dollar.
The Bank of Korea said the total value of foreign exchange reserves reached nearly 390 billion dollars as of the end of December, up more than 2 billion dollars from the previous month.
The central bank explained that the depreciating dollar meant non-dollar currencies increased in value when converted back into the greenback.
Data showed that as of the end of November, Korea was the world's ninth-largest holder of FX reserves.■
≡ Weather Update 0900
Taking a look at the weather, it's mostly clear skies for Seoul and the surrounding areas at this hour.
More clouds are expected to move in nationwide later this afternoon.
Expect frigid conditions throughout the day as temperatures continue to hover around the freezing point.
Cold wave advisories remain in effect for areas in the Gangwon and North Chungcheong provinces.
The local mercury will peak at zero, nearby Incheon will get up to minus 2.
As for the current reading in central Seoul, it is _____ degrees Celsius or _____ degrees Fahrenheit.■[2018.01.04]