For decades, sibling rivals South Korea and North Korea have been blasting competing messages across the demilitarized zone that separates them using loudspeakers, mostly in an effort to lure defectors. In recent years, though, the South added ear-splitting K-Pop music to its propaganda programming, seemingly as a way of annoying the soldiers on the other side, as much as anything. Now, according to the New York Times, South Korea has turned off its speakers in a renewed effort to repair its relationship with the North, meaning the communists don’t get to hear BTS anymore.
Over the weekend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un claimed that he was putting an end to nuclear and long-range missile testing. Later this week, South Korean president Moon Jae-in is scheduled to join Kim for a historic summit. To “create a peaceful mood for the meeting,” Moon stopped forcing K-Pop on his northern rivals, and according to the Times, he expects Kim to reciprocate by turning of the propaganda speakers aimed at the South. North Korean broadcasts have mostly comprised communist propaganda lamenting the “depraved capitalist,” whereas the South for years blasted messages denouncing hunger and human-rights violations in the North.
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It was only recently, the Times says, that South Korean soldiers added extremely loud K-pop music—including Girls’ Generation, IU and Bigbang—to the menu. The point, they said, was not just to annoy their communist counterparts (which it most certainly did, provoking gunfire across the DMZ at one point), but to penetrate the media blackout in North Korea, where citizens are permitted access only to government broadcasts that mandate worship of Kim Jong-un. Apparently it was working. In 2015, the North demanded that the South turn off music or face “all-out war.”