THE sounds of upbeat K-Pop and news broadcasts will no longer be heard blaring across the Korean border’s de-militarised zone after South Korea halted the propaganda broadcasts on Monday in preparation for their first summit with Pyongyang in over a decade.
Preparations for the historic summit are in the final stages as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are expected to meet at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday.
Ahead of the summit, North Korea announced it would halt nuclear and missile tests and said it was scrapping its nuclear test site to instead pursue economic growth and peace.
“North Korea‘s decision to freeze its nuclear programme is a significant decision for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a regular meeting at the Blue House on Monday.
“It is a green light that raises the chances of positive outcomes at the North’s summits with South Korea and the United States. If North Korea goes the path of complete denuclearisation starting from this, then a bright future for North Korea can be guaranteed.”
The speakers blaring messages to the North Korean people can be heard for miles on the North’s side, and have been playing on a regular basis since January 2016, when they were turned back on as a response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test. They broadcast Korean pop music, news and weather forecasts; snippets of everyday life in the South that are strictly off limits for North Koreans.
The broadcasts were stopped at midnight, the defence ministry said, without specifying whether they would resume after the Kim-Moon summit.
“We hope this decision will lead both Koreas to stop mutual criticism and propaganda against each other and also contribute in creating peace and a new beginning,” the South Korean defence ministry said about the decision to halt the broadcasts.
Though North Korea also engages in propaganda broadcasts of its own, it has long objected to the South’s use of speakers, and has at times responded to them with artillery fire. A South Korean defence ministry official said he could not verify whether the North had stopped its broadcasts.
Additional reporting by Reuters.