North Korea Changes Its Soundtrack at DMZ

With start of Olympics, giant speakers blast music, not propaganda
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2018 1:16 PM CST
North Korean soldiers watch the south side as UN Command officials visit after a commemorative ceremony for the 64th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement at the truce village...   (Jung Yeon-Je/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – It seems North Korea has changed its tune. Literally. North Korea has used giant speakers to blast propagandist martial speeches across the DMZ—the stretch of land separating it from South Korea—on a loop for years. Some US military personnel stationed at the DMZ say they can recite the speeches from memory at this point. But with the start of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it appears North Korea has given the speeches a rest. "We've been hearing a lot more music, and a lot of it has been more classical, especially at night." UN Command duty officer Lt. Cmdr. Daniel McShane tells ABC News. McShane says maybe the north switched to choral and folk music because so many North Koreans are in the south for the Olympics. "Or it could just be a coincidence," he says. "Maybe they've run out of speeches."

Elsewhere, UN Command Chief of Staff Robert Watt talks life on the DMZ with Global News. In addition to North Korean officers peering through windows to observe their South Korean counterparts and South Korean soldiers rescuing a defector who had been shot by his North Korean countrymen, Watt discusses the odd communication method used since the North stopped answering its phone. “We’ll come down with a megaphone,” he says. “One of the translators will read the message to the North Koreans. ... The North Koreans will send two soldiers down with a video camera and stand there videotaping it. It’s awkward." Meanwhile, Express has photos of the DMZ by Park Jongwoo, the first official photojournalist given access to the area. His work shows "the stark contrast between the military presence ... and the natural beauty of the DMZ."

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