In one of the clearest signs yet that tensions are calming on the Korean peninsula — at least temporarily — South Korea has stopped broadcasting the earsplitting sounds of boy and girl bands at the demilitarized zone that divides it from North Korea.
The move comes ahead of a meeting between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un at the DMZ on Friday, as well as a planned summit between President Trump and the North Korean dictator expected to take place in June.
South Korea said it turned off the music, which had been broadcast at high volume through powerful loudspeakers, to “ease military tensions and create a peaceful mood for the meeting.”
The demilitarized zone between the two countries has long served as a propaganda clearinghouse for both sides. While South Korea blasts music, information about its high standard of living, and pejorative words about Kim Jong-un, North Korea has countered with loud rhetoric about the wonders of the Kim family and the terrors of capitalism — when they have enough electricity to power their speakers, that is.
There is also a long history of violent incidents and North Korean defections at the border, including several last year.
Last week, North Korea vowed to suspend nuclear testing and shutter its only known nuclear test site by the end of the year, in a concession ahead of a planned meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in June. But this is hardly a guarantee that the planned summit will prove anything of value.
The loudspeakers have been switched off before, after North Korea and South Korea improved relations in 2000, only to be turned on again shortly after. If diplomacy fails, there’s a good chance that the DMZ will hear dulcet sounds of BtoB once again.