SEOUL, June 24 (UPI) -- After weeks of ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea took a step back on Wednesday with an announcement in state-run media that leader Kim Jong Un has called off military plans against South Korea.
At a meeting chaired by Kim, military officials "took stock of the prevailing situation and suspended the military action plans against the [S]outh," state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday morning.
The North Korean leader's appearance in state media was his first in almost two weeks and it marked the first time that he has publicly weighed in on the brewing conflict with South Korea.
Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, has been the public face of North Korea's bellicose turn toward its southern neighbor as the communist state has taken provocative steps such as blowing up the inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong and cutting off communications lines with the South.
Kim Yo Jong has called South Korea an "enemy" and warned that it would pay a "high price" for what she claimed were violations of agreements signed between the two countries during a period of rapprochement in 2018.
North Korea had also vowed to move troops into border areas that were demilitarized under a military agreement with the South and to begin conducting regular drills, although those movements appear to have been halted under Wednesday's announcement.
The announcement from North Korea gave little indication as to the reason for the change in direction. A number of analysts have speculated publicly that Kim Jong Un may be playing "good cop" to his sister's "bad cop" as a prelude to further negotiations with South Korea and the United States.
The heated rhetoric and provocative moves from the North began nearly three weeks ago, ostensibly spurred on by the longstanding practice of defectors sending leaflets criticizing the North Korean government across the border.
Pyongyang has repeatedly denounced the practice in recent weeks and announced on Monday that it had prepared 12 million propaganda leaflets of its own to drop on the South.
The North had also begun installing several loudspeakers along the border area, in apparent preparation to restart the blasting of propaganda speeches and music into the neighboring South.
However, reports emerged in local media Wednesday that the North had removed the loudspeakers.
At a parliamentary session on Wednesday afternoon, Defense Minister Jeong Keyong-doo confirmed their removal but said that the South Korean military would continue monitoring the movements of the North.
"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, according to news agency Yonhap.