S. Korea mulls resuming propaganda broadcasts along border

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 3, 2024, 15:45 Updated : June 3, 2024, 15:54
 Yonhap Photo
Yonhap Photo

SEOUL, June 03 (AJU PRESS) - South Korea is considering resuming loudspeaker broadcasts in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) as a countermeasure against North Korea's balloons carrying garbage and feces, the presidential office said on Sunday.

A high-ranking official said that Seoul is not ruling out the possibility of resuming psychological warfare using loudspeakers to respond to North Korea's garbage balloons and is preparing for it. "We will come up with a measure soon," the official added.

Previously, around 10 high-powered stationary loudspeakers and mobile units have operated along the DMZ since 1963. The DMZ, a four-kilometer-wide strip of land, has divided the Korean Peninsula since an armistice ended the Korean War in 1953.

These loudspeakers are capable of broadcasting propaganda up to 30 kilometers (18 miles) away. Initially, broadcasts mostly consisted of political messages, but since the 2010s, they have shifted to K-pop and other pop culture material.

Pyongyang has reacted extremely sensitively to the propaganda broadcasts, fearing they would undermine Army morale.

Loudspeaker broadcasts have been a key psychological warfare tool. They were halted amid a thaw in inter-Korean relations in 2004. But they have resumed temporarily during periods of heightened tensions, such as the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March 2010, a landmine explosion in the DMZ area in August 2015, and North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

Hours after South Korea warned of its determination to ramp up a propaganda loudspeaker campaign, North Korea immediately backed down with a statement saying it would stop sending balloons to Seoul.

Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency said, "We will temporarily suspend the action of scattering waste paper beyond the border." The KCNA explained that the garbage balloons were sent to show South Korea how unpleasant and effort-intensive cleaning up paper scattered by propaganda balloons can be, referring to balloons sent north by South Korean activists.

But Pyongyang warned that it could resume sending garbage balloons at any time. If South Korea "resumes sending leaflets, we will respond by intensively scattering wastepaper and rubbish, a hundred times more than the number of leaflets."

Over 15 tons of wastes in more than 3,500 balloons have been scattered across South Korea since last week.
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