Seoul's unification ministry said on Monday that the restoration of communication channels between the two Koreas is a starting point to rebuilding trust between Seoul and Pyeongyang.
This, in response the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong's warning on Sunday for the South to call off its annual summertime military exercises with Washington.
"Seoul will take its time to gradually revitalize inter-Korean dialogue starting with the restoration of the two Koreas' communication channels."
While refusing to comment on Kim's warning, South Korea's defense ministry said on Monday that no details about the upcoming drills, such as their size or type, have been decided yet and that Seoul is closely negotiating on the matter with Washington.
A Pentagon spokesperson also reiterated Washington's position on Sunday that any decision on the drills will be made through consultation between South Korea and the U.S.
The latest comments from Seoul and Washington come a day after Kim Yo-jong said that Pyeongyang will closely watch to see whether the South will again carry out its "hostile war exercise" or make a bold decision to scrap it.
But Sunday's statement is quite different to her last warning in March when she threatened to scrap the inter-Korean military agreement over the drills as this time, the warning has not been made public to the North Korean people.
"The restoration of the line was not publicized in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper so her statement also was not issued because it might confuse the North Korean people."
With the regime shrugging off the possibility of another inter-Korean summit, experts say there are no good incentives for the U.S. to pull the plug on the exercises.
There are some who insist it'll be difficult to postpone the drills any further due to the upcoming transition of wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul.
For now, it's highly likely the drills will go ahead, but they will be scaled down, in light of the pandemic.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.