The southern border of North Korea just got way less cheerful—or obnoxious. That’s because the South Korea military has turned off its dozens of giant speakers aimed at the totalitarian state. Until this morning, the speakers had been blasting K-pop and uplifting news that is censored in North Korea.
South Korea is shutting off the propaganda machines to prepare for Friday’s summit between its president, Moon Jae-in, and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. The South Korea Defence Ministry said in a statement that it is silencing the loudspeakers “to mitigate military tensions between North and South Korea and create an atmosphere of peaceful talks,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
There have been two previous Inter-Korean summits, in 2000 and 2007. In the years since, relations between the two countries have grown more tense as North Korea has developed a nuclear weapons programme. On Saturday, Kim announced he would close the nuclear test site because his country no longer has use for it.
Both South and North Korea have been blasting propaganda into the demilitarised zone for decades. Many civilians can hear the propaganda, but its audience is largely soldiers stationed in the area. The messages often encourage them to defect. A North Korean solider defected into the South in November, barely surviving gunshots from other North Korean soldiers. South Korea then shared news of the soldier’s health through the loudspeakers.
The South Korea military stated that it expects North Korea to also turn off its speakers. According to The New York Times, however, South Korean military officials claim that the North’s audio is weaker because of electricity shortages in the country. [Los Angeles Times]