North, South Korea take first steps of reconciliation this week

SEOUL, April 30 (UPI) — Seoul plans to scrap dozens of loudspeakers along its border with North Korea, which blasts South Korean music and news reports critical of Pyongyang, following the two Koreas’ historic summit Friday.

Seoul’s defense ministry said Monday Seoul will begin removing the loudspeakers Tuesday, in accordance with the Panmunjom Declaration reached between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two agreed to end hostile acts along their border and work to reduce military tensions between the two sides.

The loudspeakers were turned off last week, ahead of the summit talks, and the North reciprocated the move.

South Korea began blasting propaganda broadcasts into the North in May 1963, as a weapon of psychological warfare against Pyongyang.

North Korean troops stationed in the Demilitarized Zone and residents in the vicinity would have been able to hear the broadcasts. Seoul turned them off in 2000, when the two nations held their first summit, Yonhap reported.

The loudspeakers were reactivated in 2015 after the North caused the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan naval vessel, killing dozens of sailors. The broadcasts were suspended again the same year.

They resumed in January 2016, in response to the North’s fourth nuclear test.

On Monday, Seoul also announced North Korea would match its standard time with South Korea’s beginning Saturday, in a reconciliatory move.

Kim Jong Un reportedly told Moon the North will wind the clock forward by half an hour to “unify” its time with the South’s, News 1 reported.

The North had decided to launch standard Pyongyang time in August 2015, saying Korean Standard Time had been imposed by Japanese imperialists in the early 1900s.