In an empty industrial complex outside an ancient capital city, the two Koreas opened a joint liaison office on Friday, creating an un-precedented, face-to-face channel for cross-border communications. During the war, it was used for truce negotiations, so escaped the bombing which leveled most of North Korea.
The presentation of this submarine happens nearly four months after the summit of the presidents of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, and of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un.
"The name of the North-South joint liaison office is nice words, but it sums up our nation's ardent desire for a new turning point in the development of the North-South relations". "They are the ones that have to take the steps to denuclearize and that is what we are waiting for".
South Korea will station about 20 civil servants there, while the North will deploy 15-20 officials, according to reports.
Thursday, Washington imposed sanctions on two information technology companies based in China and Russian Federation for supporting Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
"The United States would want to have a solid roadmap, but the North has been avoiding it and instead unilaterally taking what it calls denuclearisation measures that fall far short of US expectations", said Cho Tae-yong, a former South Korean deputy presidential national security advisor and nuclear negotiator. However, with Seoul wary of angering Washington over breaches of UN Security Council sanctions, there is no indication that is about to happen.
The move is a follow-up on an agreement that the leaders of the two Koreas reached in their April summit to run such an office on hopes that the office will serve as a communication channel to help facilitate inter-Korean cooperation on various fronts.
Gen. Vincent Brooks, who commands the UNC and U.S. Forces Korea, authorized the movement of South Korean vehicles and personnel across the so-called Military Demarcation Line in the eastern transportation corridor, the command said in a statement.
A mood of conciliation toward South Korea prevails in North Korea ahead of next week's summit between their leaders, at a time when denuclearization talks with the United States are in a stalemate.
The neighbours are also discussing reconnecting railways and roads, and lessening guard posts along the heavily militarised border.
The city was South Korean in 1950 and was captured by North Korean troops in the opening minutes of their June 25 invasion - troops infiltrated the city aboard an unscheduled train and launched an assault directly off the platform.
But Moon's desire to advance ties with the North despite little progress on denuclearisation has raised alarm bells in Washington, with US officials worrying it could weaken Pyongyang's resolve to disarm.
"The import of North Korean coal already demonstrates that South Korea has not vigorously imposed U.N/U.S. sanctions", said Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.
"Kim watches us as much as we watch him and, unfortunately for us, this presidency is wide open", Pak said.
Seoul Defense Dialogue in Seoul, South Korea.