South Korea to use loudspeakers near North Korean border after suspension of military pact

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South Korea’s military on Tuesday said it remains ready to immediately operate mobile loudspeakers near the border with North Korea as Seoul took steps to fully suspend a 2018 inter-Korean military pact. Earlier in the day, the Cabinet endorsed the suspension of the Comprehensive Military Agreement in response to the North’s trash-carrying balloon campaign and jamming of GPS signals in recent days, Yonhap news agency reported.

The motion will be sent to President Yoon Suk Yeol for signing, and the suspension will allow South Korea to resume large-scale military training near the border and restart loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts toward the North. Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Lee Sung-jun said various measures could be taken after the suspension, noting that the military has operated both fixed and mobile loudspeakers on the front lines.

“Fixed loudspeakers need to be connected to power, and installing them could take hours to a few days,” Lee told a regular briefing. “Mobile loudspeaker operations can be conducted right away.” The loudspeakers used to blare criticism of the Kim Jong-un regime’s human rights abuses, news and K-pop songs, drawing angry responses from Pyongyang. A government source said there appears to be no plan to immediately install the fixed equipment as such activities could heighten military tension, noting that the military will likely operate the mobile equipment first if such broadcasts are resumed.

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Meanwhile, Lee declined to elaborate on the measures the military could take after the pact’s suspension but noted that they would depend on North Korea’s actions. “There are things that we can immediately do, and we could make them public, and a lot of those things can be seen as largely depending on North Korea,” he said. The 2018 deal included setting up buffer zones around the border to suspend large-scale military drills, as well as banning “hostile” acts between the two Koreas, which restricted the loudspeaker broadcasts.