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K-Pop vs. Propaganda: North Korea Halts Balloons, South Korea Threatens Broadcasts

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Not even a day after the South Korean government hinted at the possibility of resuming loudspeaker broadcasts in North Korea, the North has announced a temporary halt to its balloon propaganda campaign. Media outlets have speculated that its decision may be due to its sensitivity to criticism of its human rights record and broadcasts of K-pop.

Newsis

On the night of the 2nd, North Korea’s Vice Minister of Defense, Kim Kang Il, said in a statement released to the Korean Central News Agency, “We will temporarily halt the disperse of propaganda balloons carrying trash toward South Korea, but if they send flyers back to us, we will resume it.”

Earlier, the South Korean government had considered resuming loudspeaker broadcasts in the North in response to the North’s propaganda balloon campaign. The broadcasts do not require parliamentary approval and can be resumed as soon as the president decides. However, to do this, the suspension of the September 19 Inter-Korean Military Agreement must first take place.

In response, the Presidential National Security Office planned to propose a suspension of the entire effect of the military agreement at a cabinet meeting on the 4th, until mutual trust between South Korea and North Korea is restored.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that North Korea’s announcement of a temporary halt of its balloon propaganda came just hours after South Korea declared it would retaliate with unbearable measures against North Korea.

Reports suggest that South Korea might resume loudspeaker broadcasts in North Korea, which include criticism of North Korea’s dire human rights situation, world news, and K-pop songs.

The AP pointed out that “North Korea is extremely sensitive to such broadcasts because most of its 26 million people do not have official access to foreign TV and radio programs.”

In 2020, North Korea, angered by South Korea’s leaflet campaign, demolished the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea.

Citing expert analysis, the AP suggested, “There appears to be an intention to incite internal division in South Korea over the conservative government’s hardline policy towards the North.”

Reuters also reported, “The South Korean government has declared it will take unbearable measures in response to North Korea sending trash balloons across the border, which could include loud propaganda broadcasts targeting North Korea.”

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