Koreas re­sume loud­speaker broad­casts as ten­sions grow

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST - BY HYUNG-JIN KIM

The ri­val Koreas have re­sumed cross-bor­der pro­pa­ganda war­fare as North Korea matched South Korea’s loud­speaker cam­paign with broad­casts of its own that re­port­edly in­cluded crit­i­cism of Seoul and praises for Py­ongyang.

The mu­tual pro­pa­ganda at­tacks mark a fur­ther de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of re­la­tions be­tween the Koreas, who haven’t en­gaged in any se­ri­ous talks in re­cent months.

Last week, South Korea blamed the North for land mine ex­plo­sions that maimed two South Korean sol­diers and re­sumed pro­pa­ganda broad­casts for the first time in 11 years in re­tal­i­a­tion. North Korea has de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions and threat­ened to launch strikes on South Korean loud­speak­ers.

Two to three days af­ter South Korea’s restart of broad­casts, North Korea be­gan its own loud­speaker cam­paign along the bor­der, a South Korean De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial said Tues­day speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of depart­ment rules.

The of­fi­cial gave no fur­ther de­tails and South Korea’s mil­i­tary said in a state­ment that the North Korean broad­casts were not clearly au­di­ble in South Korean ar­eas. But South Korean public broad­caster KBS, cit­ing an uniden­ti­fied mil­i­tary of­fi­cial, re­ported that the North Korean broad­casts mainly in­cluded crit­i­cism of South Korea and praises for North Korea’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

The North’s broad­casts mark the restora­tion of in­ter-Korean pro­pa­ganda war­fare along the bor­der af­ter the two Koreas stopped the prac­tice in 2004 as part of their ef­forts to ease an­i­mosi­ties. Other prac­tices, in­clud­ing leaflet­ing and the op­er­a­tion of front-line bill­boards, re­main sus­pended, ac­cord­ing to Seoul of­fi­cials.

An­i­mosi­ties be­tween the ri­vals are ex­pected to con­tinue as Seoul and Washington kicked off an­nual mil­i­tary drills that Py­ongyang calls an in­va­sion re­hearsal. South Korean and U.S. of­fi­cials have said that the drills are de­fen­sive in na­ture.

U.S. State Depart­ment spokesman John Kirby said the “rou­tine” ex­er­cises were pro­ceed­ing nor­mally. “We look for­ward to com­plet­ing the ex­er­cises, as we al­ways do. This is all about prov­ing al­liance ca­pa­bil­ity,” he told re­porters in Washington.

South Korea has said the two sol­diers wounded from the mine ex­plo­sion were on a rou­tine pa­trol at the south­ern part of the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone that sep­a­rates the two Koreas. One soldier lost both legs, while the other lost one leg.

South Korean loud­speaker broad­casts were aimed at em­pha­siz­ing that the mine blast was a provo­ca­tion com­mit­ted by North Korea and re­lay­ing mes­sages about the su­pe­ri­or­ity of Seoul-style democ­racy as well as world news and weather fore­casts, the South Korean De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial said.

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