Factbox-Psychological warfare and K-pop: South Korea to blast loudspeakers at North Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea announced on Sunday that it would resume loudspeaker transmissions at the border aimed at North Korea, for the first time since six years. This was in response to Pyongyang’s balloon launches which sent trash to the South.

Here are some interesting facts about the broadcasts, as tensions on the Korean Peninsula once again rise.

THE SPEAKERS

The large, stationary racks are as high as 6 metres (20 feet) and as wide as 3 metres. They are placed at various locations south of the barbed-wire fence that marks the southern border of the Demilitarized Zone.

Some units are mounted on trucks and mobile.

The South Korean military controls the speaker system as well as the broadcasts.

The speakers can blast music and voice more than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles), allowing them to reach many soldiers as well as civilians.

What do the Broadcasters achieve?

The former South Korean president Park Geun Hye stated in 2016 that loudspeaker transmissions were the “most effective form of psychological war” and had encouraged North Koreans risking their lives to defect to the South.

The statement is backed by defectors who have fled the North.

The South Korean military called the broadcasts Voice of Freedom, with four main themes: the superiority of democratic liberals, the economic history of South Korea, the justification of reunification, and the reality of North Korean societies.

The mix of world news, commentary about the North Korean political system, its leader and weather reports is mixed with Kpop hits. Some North Korean defectors claim that this left them with the impression that these songs had no ideological message.

How does North Korea react?

North Korea viewed criticism of its leader Kim Jong Un in past broadcasts, as an assault on “supreme dignity” and launched a cross-border artillery attack.

The broadcasts were prominently featured in the joint statement signed by North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, and then South Korean President Moon Jae In at a 2018 peace summit.

The South Korean government called it a hostile act and pledged to stop the operation.

North Korea’s military may have carried out a crude operation in order to disrupt the broadcasts that reach its soldiers and citizens by using its loudspeakers. The loudspeakers were not powerful enough to transmit messages that could be understood by the South.

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