SEOUL: South and North Korea ended their loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts yesterday along the world's last Cold War frontier, marking the anniversary of a landmark summit between the two sides four years ago.
The two have waged a war of nerves using propaganda broadcasts since the 1950-53 Korean War, but the ear-splitting broadcasts came to a halt after midnight, South Korean military officials said.
South Korea also turned off electronic signs after displaying a last flash message which read “Peace, reconciliation and co-operation,” they said.
Dozens of high-performance loudspeaker batteries have been set up along the 248km border dotted with slogans, electronic displays, posters and religious and ideological propaganda.
“Now, we announce the historic fact that our voice of freedom broadcasts are being brought to closure,” South Korea said in its last broadcast, according to the defence ministry.
South Korea has about 100 propaganda billboards along the land border. North Korea has erected 200 huge signs and drawings praising their leader and communism or denouncing the United States.
“One concern about ending the propaganda war is the night-time quiet that can make our soldiers on night duty weary and feel sleepy,” First Lt Kim Kyong-chun, a frontline army platoon leader, told Yonhap news agency.
“We plan to develop new systems to keep our sentries awake for fool-proof security,” he said.
The two sides will begin dismantling all propaganda materials from the border area today,
On Monday, warships from the two sides communicated for the first time using a common radio frequency, flags and light signals along a disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea in an effort to prevent accidental clashes.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun welcomed the termination of propaganda broadcasts, which followed a military deal on June 4 to reduce tensions along the heavily-fortified border.
The rapprochement comes at a sensitive time, with an international diplomatic drive under way to encourage the Stalinist North to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Roh, however, vowed to step up the rapprochement saying inter-Korean ties would help resolve the nuclear standoff.
“Inter-Korean co-operation will be accelerated if the nuclear issue is resolved, and we are preparing comprehensive and concrete plans for that,” he said.
The president's office said “comprehensive” means co-operation in all industries to recharge North Korea's moribund economy. – AFP
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