The last top-level meeting between North and South Korea took place 11 years ago, and tensions have since "risen dramatically," per the Los Angeles Times. And so South Korea is offering an olive branch ahead of this week's summit, silencing the speakers it uses along the border to spew K-pop tunes, weather reports, and other propaganda. South Korea's Defense Ministry said muting the speakers in the Demilitarized Zone was done to "ease military tensions and create a peaceful mood for the meeting," per the New York Times. "We hope that our move today will result in South and North Korea ending mutual slandering and propaganda against each other and creating a peaceful new beginning." South Korea says the speakers—which have annoyed the North so much in the past they've been shot at, per CNN—were turned off early Monday, per the BBC.
Loudspeakers have been used by both sides as propaganda producers along the border, although the South's are said to be much louder and more powerful than the North's. Using the speakers to tamp down the cult of personality around North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been a main goal of the South; one tactic both sides engage in is to use the speakers to try to cajole soldiers to cross over to the other side. Although the speakers were muffled after the first summit in 2000, they were plugged back in as the relationship between the two nations worsened, a deterioration exacerbated by the North's nuclear tests. South Korean officials say the North is expected to also turn off its loudspeakers as a gesture of goodwill this time around. The summit in the border "truce village" of Panmunjom reportedly could result in the formal ending of the Korean War. (Read more South Korea stories.)