Radios off, peace full on

For the first time in over two years, South Korea has stopped propaganda broadcasts directed at the North. Such broadcasts include a mixture of news, South Korean pop music and criticism of the North Korean regime.
For the first time in over two years, South Korea has stopped propaganda broadcasts directed at the North. Such broadcasts include a mixture of news, South Korean pop music and criticism of the North Korean regime.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

South Korea stops propaganda broadcasts aimed at North ahead of summit on Friday

SEOUL • South Korea halted the propaganda broadcasts it blares across the border at North Korea yesterday, ahead of their first summit in a decade.

Both Koreas are in the final stages of preparations for a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday.

Ahead of the summit, North Korea said it would halt nuclear and missile tests and that 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," Mr Moon said at a regular meeting at the presidential Blue House yesterday.

"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," he said.

The South's propaganda broadcasts were stopped at midnight, the Defence Ministry said, without mentioning if they would resume after the 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 ministry said about the decision to stop the broadcasts.

The South's military will also likely pause its annual combined military exercise with the US on the summit day. The annual Key Resolve command-post training kicked off earlier yesterday for a two-week run as scheduled.

The allies plan to finish the first part of the drill on Thursday, followed by an unofficial assessment session on Friday and continue with the second part of the drill next week, Yonhap news agency reported.

Their separate four-week Foal Eagle field exercise is drawing to a close this week.

Observers say this year's South Korea-US drills have been notably scaled down. The two-month-long Foal Eagle exercise has been reduced to a four-week run with no major US strategic assets such as supercarriers or nuclear submarines expected to be deployed to the peninsula, said Yonhap.

This is the first time in over two years that the South Korean broadcasts, which include a mixture of news, South Korean pop music and criticism of the North Korean regime, have been stopped.

North Korea has its own loudspeakers at the border, but the South's Defence Ministry could not verify if Pyongyang had stopped its own broadcasts.

Officials from South Korea and North Korea held talks yesterday at Panmunjom to discuss details of the summit, said Yonhap. The summit will begin before noon and include an official dinner. It will also be broadcast live.

North Korea will send an advance team to the South Korean side of Panmunjom tomorrow to make final preparations for the summit, according to Yonhap.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2018, with the headline 'Radios off, peace full on'. Print Edition | Subscribe