ROK halts border propaganda broadcasts

The gesture aiming to set a positive tone ahead of the Kim-Moon summit came after the DPRK said it would suspend nuclear and missile tests and scrap its nuclear test site.

The Republic of Korea halted the propaganda broadcasts it blares across the border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Monday, aiming to set a positive tone ahead of the first summit in a decade between their leaders.

The gesture came after the DPRK said on Saturday it would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests, scrap its nuclear test site and instead pursue economic growth and peace, a declaration welcomed by world leaders.

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un is due to hold a summit with ROK President Moon Jae-In at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday, and is expected to meet with United States President Donald Trump in late May or early June.

“The DPRK’s decision to freeze its nuclear program is a significant decision for the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Moon said at a regular meeting in Seoul Monday.

“It is a green light that raises the chances of positive outcomes at the DPRK’s summits with ROK and the United States. If the DPRK goes the path of complete denuclearization starting from this, then a bright future for it can be guaranteed.”

ROK’s propaganda broadcasts, which include a mix of news, Korean pop songs, an criticism of the DPRK government, were stopped at midnight, the defense ministry in Seoul said. It didn’t specify if they would resume after the Kim-Moon summit.

“We hope this decision will lead both Koreas to stop mutual criticism and propaganda against each other and also contribute in creating peace and a new beginning,” the ministry said.

It marks the first time in more than two years that the ROK’s broadcasts have fallen silent. The DPRK has its own propaganda loudspeakers at the border, but a defense ministry official said he could not verify that they had also stopped.

The two Koreas agreed to a schedule for Friday’s summit at working-level talks Monday, ROK’s presidential Blue House said, adding that the DPRK had agreed to allow ROK reporters in its part of the Joint Security Area at the border to cover the event.

Preparations for the talks will include a rehearsal by officials from both countries at Panmunjom tomorrow, the Blue House added.

The inter-Korean talks and the expected Kim-Trump summit have raised hopes of an easing in tensions that reached a crescendo last year amid a flurry of DPRK missile tests and its largest nuclear test.

Still, the shares of ROK companies with business links to the DPRK rallied after Pyongyang’s weekend announcement.

Shares of Good People and Shinwon Corp, which used to operate factories in the DPRK’s Kaesong industrial region near the border, rose 8 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

China welcomed the DPRK’s announcement.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told reporters Monday that the DPRK’s announcement over the weekend was “great news.”

“We cannot let any noise damage the continued improvements in the situation on the peninsula and cannot allow anything to interfere in or obstruct the talks process between the parties,” Wang said, after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Beijing.

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