South Korea stopped blasting the country's distinctive "K-pop" music and anti-communist rhetoric across the North Korean border Monday, a move aimed at "reducing military tensions between the South and North and creating a mood for peaceful talks" later this week.
"The Ministry of National Defense halted the loudspeaker broadcasts against North Korea in the vicinity of the military demarcation line," the ministry said in a statement.
A summit between the divided nations is scheduled for Friday at the border village of Panmunjom.
South Korea has been pumping propaganda and pop music across the border for more than two years. K-pop music generally features teen "girl bands" or "boy bands" who sing, dance and include other audio-visual elements. The genre, which originated in South Korea, is extremely popular across much of Asia and beyond.
The move follows Pyongyang's recent peace gestures that included an announcement it will shut down nuclear test facilities in Punggye-ri and suspend nuclear tests and long-range missile launches.
President Trump has said he plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the "coming weeks." Last week, Trump confirmed that CIA chief and secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo had traveled to North Korea to meet Kim.
Trump, who has been pressing his demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapon ambitions, tweeted Sunday that details of the talks haven't been completed — and that the meeting might not even happen.
"We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t - only time will tell," Trump tweeted.
In making the decision to stop the K-pop blasts Sunday, Defense Minister Song Young-moo did not formally notify the North's military of the plan, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. Yonhap, citing military sources, said North Korea also began silencing its loudspeakers along the border Monday, apparently in response to the South's action.
The South actually began blaring propaganda reports across the border through high-decibel loudspeakers more than 50 years ago. Both sides barraged the other with the noise, with North Korea even floating balloons packed with anti-South Korea leaflets across the border.
The border war of words and music was curtailed in 2015 amid high-level talks. A few months later, however, the loudspeakers were awakened when North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test.
The South's military also is expected to pause its annual combined military exercise with the U.S. on Friday, Yonhap said.
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