With Kim Jong Un turning up the heat with North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, South Korea will respond Friday by pumping up the volume. Literally.
From noon on North Korean leader Kim’s birthday, South Korea plans to fire up loudspeakers along the heavily fortified border and resume the propaganda blasts that brought the reclusive regime to a war footing in August — and then to the negotiating table. Dropping leaflets into Kim’s “front yard” is also an option, according to one lawmaker.
While years of United Nations sanctions and other penalties have failed to bring Kim to heel, one thing that can get under his skin is broadcasts over the demilitarized zone of South Korean ballads and rap music, a genre known as K-pop. The speakers have been used only once in the past decade, 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 Kim’s officials agreed to halt the mobilization 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 Defense 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.”