South Korea launched a very special response to neighbor North Korea’s recent bomb test: K-Pop.
At noon on the North Korean leader’s birthday, South Korea fired up loudspeakers along the heavily fortified border and resumed the propaganda blasts that brought the reclusive regime to a war footing in August – and then to the negotiating table. South Korea has reinforced defensive positions near the loudspeakers in case of attack, while the North Korean army has stepped up surveillance along the border, the South Korean Defence Ministry said.
The speaker blasted messages not only critical of the North Korean political regime but also “songs by girl group Apink and folk singer Lee Ae Ran.”
This is not the first time South Korea has used the speakers. They were used once before, “for part of August in retaliation for the maiming of two South Korean soldiers by DMZ mines.”
That spat escalated into what North Korea called a “semi-state of war” that was cooled by marathon talks at a border village where North Korean officials agreed to halt the mobilisation of forces. One condition was that Seoul turned the speakers off.
“Kim Jong-un isn’t your typical dictator. He’s a god in North Korea, and propaganda broadcasts raise questions among North Koreans about that,” said Park Chang Kwon, a senior research fellow at the state-run Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul.
“Broadcasts from South Korea can reach deep and far into North Korea’s society, imbuing the minds of its people with the images of a free nation and hurting the oppressive personality cult.”
But the broadcasts could backfire.
“The resumption of loudspeaker broadcasts may emotionally provoke the North Korean military sensitive to criticism of the ‘supreme dignity’, rather than help resolve the nuclear issue,” Cheong Seong Chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute near Seoul, said.
Especially since the K-Pop serenade coincides with Kim Jung Un’s birthday.