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(2nd LD) N. Korea seen removing loudspeakers from border areas: officials

All News 15:01 June 24, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead with fresh attribution; ADDS more details, comments in paras 2, 5-9; CHANGES photo)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea was seen removing multiple propaganda loudspeakers reinstalled recently along the border with South Korea, officials said Wednesday, after leader Kim Jong-un ordered the suspension of military action plans against the South.

The North recently set up around 20 to 30 loudspeakers in border areas after threatening to take military action against what it called "the enemy" in anger over Seoul's failure to stop defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border.

"North Korea is taking down those newly installed loudspeakers from earlier today," a military source said.

The move came after the communist country decided to suspend military action against South Korea during a Central Military Commission meeting presided over by leader Kim, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency.

Defense Minister Jeong Keyong-doo confirmed that the North removed loudspeakers and said the military is closely monitoring related moves. But he did not provide further details, including how many were set up recently, how many were removed and where they are located.

"Regardless of the North Korean moves, we will continue to maintain a firm readiness posture and manage the situation so as to prevent the people from feeling insecure," Jeong said during a parliamentary judiciary committee session.

Jeong urged the North to "completely withdraw" military action plans rather than suspending them.

An official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) also said the authorities are on high alert, as the suspension decision was made during the "preliminary" meeting.

"We still see more (North Korean) troops around its border sentry posts than before," he added. "But no unusual movements are detected which indicate North Korea is to put its earlier threats into practice."

Last week, the North blew up the inter-Korean liaison office in its border town of Kaesong in a dramatic expression of anger at the South. The North then warned of a series of military actions, such as the forward deployment of its troops to Kaesong and the Mount Kumgang tourist area on the east coast and opening border areas for scattering anti-South leaflets.

In 2018, South and North Korea dismantled around 40 loudspeakers each from their border regions, as they agreed to halt all hostile acts against each other and eliminate their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and the distribution of leaflets, in accordance with the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration signed by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim.

In this combined photo, taken from an observatory on South Korea's Ganghwa Island on June 24, 2020, a propaganda loudspeaker is seen removed (in circle, bottom) in the North Korean town of Kaepung on the western front-line border with South Korea. The loudspeaker was spotted the previous day (in circle, top). (Yonhap)


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