PRO­PA­GANDA VIL­LAGE

Mandate - - International -

All gov­ern­ments lie, but it takes a spe­cial kind of ma­nip­u­la­tive streak to cre­ate an en­tire town just to keep up pre­ten­sions. Built in the guarded De­mil­i­ta­rized Zone (DMZ) that sep­a­rates North and South Korea, Ki­jong- dong claims to have 200 res­i­dents and boasts an im­age of eco­nomic suc­cess. Closer ob­ser­va­tion, how­ever, re­veals a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. The build­ings are ac­tu­ally con­crete shells with no glass in their win­dows, where elec­tric lights op­er­ate on an au­to­matic timer, and the only peo­ple in sight are main­te­nance work­ers who sweep the streets to give the im­pres­sion of ac­tiv­ity.

Meant to serve as ‘Pro­pa­ganda Vil­lage’, Ki­jong- dong is a de­coy for lur­ing South Korean de­fec­tors. Mas­sive loud speak­ers de­liv­ered DPRK pro­pa­ganda broad­casts to the south that praised North Korea’s virtues and urged dis­grun­tled sol­diers and farm­ers to walk across the bor­der. When this ap­proach failed to lure de­fec­tors, the speak­ers be­gan blast­ing 20 hours a day of anti-West­ern rhetoric, com­mu­nist op­eras and pa­tri­otic march­ing mu­sic. Fi­nally in 2004, both gov­ern­ments agreed to stop loud­speaker broad­casts to each other.

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