Seoul | North Korea warned of war as South Korea today continued blasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda across the rivals’ tense border in retaliation for the North’s purported fourth nuclear test. North Korean propaganda is filled with threats of violence, but the country is also extremely sensitive to criticism of its authoritarian leadership, which Seoul resumed in its cross-border broadcasts yesterday for the first time in nearly five months. Pyongyang says the broadcasts are tantamount to an act of war.
When South Korea briefly resumed propaganda broadcasts in August after an 11-year break, Seoul says the two Koreas exchanged artillery fire. Speaking to a massive crowd at Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, a top ruling party official said the broadcasts, along with talks between Washington and Seoul on the possibility of deploying in the South advanced US warplanes capable of delivering nuclear bombs, have pushed the Korean Peninsula toward the brink of war. Pyongyang’s rivals are jealous of the North’s successful hydrogen bomb test, Workers’ Party Secretary Kim Ki Nam said in comments broadcast on state television late yesterday.
South Korean troops, near about 10 sites where loudspeakers started blaring propaganda yesterday, were on the highest alert, but have yet to detect any unusual movement from the North Korean military along the border, an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry, who refused to be named, citing office rules, said today. The South’s Yonhap news agency said Seoul had deployed missiles, artillery and other weapons systems near the border to swiftly deal with any possible North Korean provocation, but the ministry did not confirm the reports. Officials say broadcasts from the South’s loudspeakers can travel about 10 kilometers (6 miles) during the day and 24 kilometers (15 miles) at night.
That reaches many of the huge force of North Korean soldiers stationed near the border and also residents in border towns such as Kaesong, where the Koreas jointly operate an industrial park that has been a valuable cash source for the impoverished North. Seoul also planned to use mobile speakers to broadcast from a small South Korean island just a few kilometers away from North Korean shores. While the South’s broadcasts also include news and pop music, much of the programming challenges North Korea’s government more directly. We hope that our fellow Koreans in the North will be able to live in (a) society that doesn’t invade individual lives as soon as possible, a female presenter said in parts of the broadcast that officials revealed to South Korean media.
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