North Korea watchers say restoring communication lines between the two Koreas would be the first step in returning to the peace process, even paving the way for a possible inter-Korean summit within the year.
"Trust still remains between the leaders of the two Koreas, and both have a strong determination to carry out their agreements. It's highly likely that, because of the pandemic, any summit would be virtual."
In a statement Saturday, the North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo-jong, hinted at the possibility of declaring a formal end to the Korean War as recently proposed by President Moon Jae-in at the UN General Assembly and holding another inter-Korean summit.
Experts say the North could be showing interest in Moon's offer ultimately as a way of getting relief from many challenges it faces.
"The North is faced with internal challenges like international sanctions, closed borders because of the COVID-19 crisis and the aftermath of natural disasters. The North is looking for a breakthrough by restoring communication lines."
The North cut off all hotlines and blew up the joint liaison office in June 2020 in protest against anti-Pyeongyang propaganda leaflets flown over the border by activists in the South.
Communication lines were back up briefly in late July this year, but the North has not responded to Seoul's attempts to call since the South Korea-U.S. joint military drills in the summer.
Despite the optimistic signs from the North recently, experts note that there are certain conditions for such lofty goals to come true.
"The North is urging the U.S. to get rid of sanctions on the regime and Seoul to drop what it sees as a double standard by not making an issue out of [the North's] self-defense measures."
In order to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul's unification ministry on Monday reiterated the need to restore the two sides' communication channels.
North Korea will convene its Supreme People's Assembly on Tuesday, and analysts expect no message for Seoul or Washington but rather a focus on the regime's internal affairs, including legislation and the state budget.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.