South Korea Monday pulled the plug on the infamous loudspeakers that throw a daily din of propaganda and K-pop over the demilitarized zone and into North Korea.
Killing the high-decibel speakers that have broadcast on-and-off since the early 1960s is part of a wider rapprochement by Seoul toward their neighbor.
Pyongyang’s speakers, which hurl patriotic songs and praise for leader Kim Jong Un in the opposite direction, will also be silenced, Yonhap news agency reported.
The move comes a few days ahead of an historic summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In.
The summit will take place on the southern side of the village of Panmunjom within the DMZ.
The loudspeakers were last silenced in 2015 following high-level talks, but the volume was cranked back up after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016.
The South Korean defense ministry said the broadcasts, which blare a combination of radio dramas, pop music, criticism of the North and news about defectors, fell silent at midnight Sunday.
“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 in a statement.
Officials added that the decision was aimed at “reducing military tensions between the South and North and creating a mood for peaceful talks.” The South is also expected to pause its annual military exercises with the U.S. next Friday while the summit takes place.
Seoul’s decision comes after Kim revealed Saturday the North had suspended all nuclear and long-range missile tests and was shutting down a nuclear facility it no longer needed. Experts warned this could simply mean Kim no longer needs to conduct tests as he has achieved his goal of building a nuclear arsenal.
Cover image: South Korean soldiers draw down a cover from the loudspeakers at a military base near the border between South Korea and North Korea on January 8, 2016 in Yeoncheon, South Korea. (Korea Pool-Donga Daily via Getty Images)