It’s true the Koreas did not reach an agreement on nuclear disarmament at their historic meeting Friday (although Kim Jong Un has invited westerners to observe the closure of the North’s only known nuclear test site). And it’s true suggesting President Donald Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering the meeting between the two men (does anyone have a good, accurate accounting of what it was?) is a bit premature.
But there are signs the icy cold relationship between the rival Koreas may be thawing in the aftermath of the meeting: both sides have begun dismantling their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.
South Korean soldiers disassembled loudspeakers in multiple front-line areas in the presence of journalists before pulling them away from the border, the Defense Ministry said. A South Korea military officer said later Tuesday that North Korea had also begun taking down its propaganda loudspeakers earlier in the day. He requested anonymity, citing department rules.
Both Koreas had turned off the propaganda broadcasts along the 154-mile-long border last week before the summit.
They had restarted their propaganda warfare in early 2016 when tensions rose sharply after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test. South Korea broadcast K-pop songs as well as criticism of the North’s abysmal human rights conditions, world news and weather forecasts. The North broadcast anti-South messages and praises of its own political system.
North Korea is extremely sensitive to any outside criticism of its system, and most of its 24 million people are not allowed access to foreign TV and radio programs. In 2014, North Korean soldiers opened fire after South Korean activists sent anti-North leaflets over the border with large balloons, prompting South Korea to return fire. There were no reports of casualties.
Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he’s willing to discuss North Korea giving up its nuclear program if the United States would commit to formally declaring an end to the Korean War, and if the western nation would promise not to attack North Korea.
Moon also ran interference with the UN, asking them to formally recognize the summit between the two nations, and to take part in observing the closure of North Korea’s nuclear test site.
The two nations released a joint summit statement that indicated a shared desire to achieve “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization.”
Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim over the coming weeks, the first such meeting between the two nations since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
While the topics the two men might cover remain unclear — Kim, as mentioned, wants intermittent rewards for a gradual drawing down, while Trump wants “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” — the air should literally and metaphorically be quieter and tensions slightly lower with no propaganda blaring throughout the countryside.