South Korea will resume propaganda broadcasts into North Korea on noon Friday – dictator Kim Jong-un’s birthday – likely to feature both criticism of the Kim regime and the South Korean genre of electro-pop known as K-pop.
Cho Tae-yong, a senior adviser to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, confirmed to reporters the propaganda broadcasts would resume Friday, describing North Korea’s announcement of an alleged hydrogen bomb test on Wednesday as both a “grave violation” of the deal that had shut down South Korea’s broadcasts in August and an “abnormal situation.” Upon agreeing to cease the broadcasts last year, South Korea noted that any “abnormal situation” would be deemed an exception to the agreement and trigger the return of the broadcasts.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap quotes Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, as predicting the broadcasts could trigger a North Korean overreaction. “There is a high possibility that North Korea could react in an ultra-harsh manner by regarding South Korea’s decision as ruining the birthday celebration,” he noted.
The two Koreas almost went to war in August, largely due to North Korea’s near-violent response to propaganda broadcasts. The broadcasts aired over the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for the first time in 11 years following the explosion of land mines on the south side of the border, leaving two soldiers disabled. The land mine appeared to have been designed in a North Korean “wooden box” style. “This is a clear provocation by the North Korean military. We swear a severe retaliation,”said South Korean military spokesman Kim Min-seok at the time. In response, Kim ordered soldiers to prepare for war if South Korea did not stop its broadcasts in 48 hours. The two finally reached an agreement that prevented violence, but triggered an end to the broadcasts.
Bloomberg reports that South Korea has already set up 11 loudspeaker locations which will be programmed to air up to four hours of content a day. It describes the content, citing the August confrontation, as likely to be “recordings of casual conversations to discussions about the importance of human rights and the lives of South Korea’s middle class, according to the Defense Ministry in Seoul.” It will also include popular South Korean music. Bloomberg cites the electronic rap hit “Bang Bang Bang” by the group Big Bang as a favorite in the August broadcasts:
The New York Times cites the female pop group Girls’ Generation as another sample of music airing over South Korea’s loudspeakers in August.
The broadcasts related to the situation in North Korea, the Times story notes, spared no insult for Kim. “Kim Jong-un’s incompetent regime is trying to cheat the world with absurd lies,” one broadcast allegedly told North Korean soldiers listening in, calling Kim “childish.”
The Diplomat notes broadcasts sometimes also include “weather reports, global news, and K-pop music.”
Unnamed officials in the South Korean government told The New York Times Thursday that “propaganda broadcasts was the simplest and quickest way they could think of, for now, to retaliate for the test.”
North Korea announced a successful hydrogen bomb detonation on Wednesday, a claim many experts reject. While the blast was significant and caused a 5.1 earthquake on the Richter scale, this is not significantly larger than the quake felt following North Korea’s previous fission bomb explosion. Possessing fusion technology would also be an astronomical technological leap for North Korea in the past five years.
North Korea appears not to have responded to the K-pop threat as of press time. The latest articles regarding South Korea published at the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s state newspaper, boast an oddly conciliatory tone. “The DPRK will have an open-minded discussion on the reunification issue, the national issue, with anyone who is truly desirous of national reconciliation and unity, peace and reunification,” reads an article titled “We Should Pave Way for Improving Relations Between North and South of Korea.” North Korea being North Korea, however, the article concludes, “The DPRK will never pardon the treacherous attempt to disregard the agreements common to the nation and bring down the foundation of inter-Korean relations.”