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02:13 PM, April 30, 2018
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Loudspeakers used to broadcast anti-pyongyang messages at the demilitarized zone (Image: Yonhap)

Seoul has begun dismantling loudspeakers used in propoganda warfare with Pyongyang while the latter has promised to do the same following an inter-Korea summit between the leaders of both states.

South Korea on Monday announced a plan to remove propaganda loudspeakers along the border with North Korea. The loudspeakers are to be pulled back from the demilitarized zone starting Tuesday. Both Koreas had blasted propaganda messages across the border via dozens of massive loudspeakers until they were suspended days before last Friday’s summit, Korea Herald reported Monday.

The measure is a part of Seoul’s initial efforts to implement the summit agreements, in which President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un pledged to cease hostile acts such as the loudspeaker broadcasts and sending propaganda leaflets, the South Korean military was quoted by the news daily as saying.

“As an initial step to build trust on military issues, it is one of the easiest things to do,” said the Defense Ministry’s spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo, adding that North Korea had not been consulted on the measure in advance.

The spokesperson noted that the decision to withdraw the loudspeakers should be interpreted as a tacit agreement that is part of Moon and Kim’s agreement to do away with every means that could cause cross-border hostilities.

North Korea will soon pull back its own loudspeakers, whose operations were suspended last week following Seoul’s decision to turn off its loudspeakers in return for Pyongyang’s earlier pledge to halt nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, the military said.

“We expect North Korea to do the same as it did in response to our decision to shut down the loudspeaker broadcasts,” said the spokesperson. “We believe North Korea will follow through on the agreement.”

The propaganda broadcasts have been a source of cross-border tensions, which reached its peak in 2015 when the North threatened to attack the loudspeakers blaring criticism of Kim Jong-un. South Korea agreed to turn them off, but resumed again after the North conducted a nuclear test in 2016.

In order to prevent miscalculations, the two Koreas’ leaders agreed to return the DMZ to its original state by pulling back each other’s troops and establishing a “peace zone” in the West Sea close to North Korea to avoid potential maritime skirmishes. The military said the upcoming military talks would address a “wide range of issues” including the measures to demilitarize the DMZ and conduct other joint projects with North Korea in the cross-border region.

The South Korean government is considering a plan to pull back its guard posts and heavy-fire weapons positioned along the border, but the process would take time as it requires consultation.

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