What music is popular in North Korea

North KoreaPop music propaganda from South Korea

The recent missile launch in North Korea is putting a strain on relations with South Korea. Now Seoul has stopped the operation of a joint industrial park and is also relying on a recently underutilized means of propaganda: The government is broadcasting loud pop music over loudspeakers at the border - and criticism of the ruler Kim Jong Un.

With the shutdown of the joint industrial park in Kaesong, South Korea is taking an important source of foreign currency away from its northern neighbor. The reason given was that this should prevent funds from the factory park from being used for the North Korean nuclear weapons and missile program. Pyongyang had been informed of this. The complex near the border is located on North Korean territory.

As a further sanction, the South Korean military also increased the propaganda sound of North Korea on the border, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense announced in Seoul. According to reports, this is now done six hours a day. Since the world-wide criticism of North Korea's nuclear test in early January, South Korea has been broadcasting loud pop music from several loudspeakers across the border and broadcasting programs criticizing the communist regime in Pyongyang.

With this picture, the North Korean state television reported on the launch of the rocket. The picture was distributed by the South Korean news agency Yonhap. (YONHAP / NORTH KOREAN TV / AFP)

Among other things, ruler Kim Jong Un is criticized for his luxurious lifestyle and economic policy in the impoverished and isolated country. Seoul also broadcasts so-called K-Pop. This music is officially banned in the north, but according to statements by defectors it is popular with the population.

South Korea's head of state Park Geun Hye sees loudspeaker propaganda as the "most effective means of psychological warfare." North Korea reacted promptly and, according to South Korean information, spread propaganda through loudspeakers at the border.

Public address in August 2015 "open act of war"

The sound from the south penetrates up to 24 kilometers to the north. North Korea is extremely irritated to criticism of Kim and its state system. In view of the sound in August 2015, Pyongyang had spoken of an "open act of war" and declared "a quasi-war state". Artillery fire broke out. It was only after long negotiations that the two countries agreed on de-escalation.

Previously, South Korea had not used the loudspeakers for 11 years. In 2004 the two Koreas officially stopped such psychological warfare to ease tension. But South Korean activists sometimes launch propaganda balloons northwards, causing angry reactions from Pyongyang.

The border between North and South Korea: a South Korean post in the foreground, a North Korean post in the background. (AFP / JUNG YEON-JE)

North Korea also uses speakers

According to information from Seoul, North Korea sent around a million propaganda leaflets south in mid-January. In it, the PA system was criticized by South Korea and the head of state Park Geun Hye.

South and North Korea have been in a state of war under international law since the end of the Korean War (1950-53). A peace treaty has not yet been concluded. In 1953, a military buffer zone around 240 kilometers long and four kilometers wide was created across the peninsula. This still forms the de facto limit to this day.

(hba / jasi)