North says it will blast speakers on border

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North says it will blast speakers on border

Back to its belligerent self, North Korea yesterday threatened to shoot down South Korean loudspeakers that broadcast propaganda north of the border. That was in response to the South Korean declaration that it would resume its “psychological operations” against North Korea in response to the North’s torpedo attack on the South Korean warship Cheonan.

According to the Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, an unidentified military commander said the North’s forces will fire “direct sighting shots to destroy” any South Korean equipment installed to deliver anti-North Korean messages.

“If the group of traitors challenges the just reaction of [North Korea], this will be followed by stronger physical strikes to eliminate the root cause of the provocations,” the commander said, adding that the North Korean soldiers are angered simply by the sight of the South Korean loudspeakers.

Earlier yesterday, the South Korean government said disseminating propaganda messages was part of its countermeasures following the deadly attack on the Cheonan in March.

Propaganda activities were suspended in June 2004, when the two Koreas agreed to halt decades of campaigns as part of reconciliation efforts. In recent months, however, South Korean activists flew balloons carrying propaganda leaflets across the border, prompting North Korea to threaten “decisive measures.”

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a National Assembly hearing that if North Korea attacks South Korean loudspeakers, “then there’s no other choice than to strike back immediately.”

The propaganda messages - entitled “The Sound of Freedom” - will be played from dozens of loudspeakers to be set up near the military demarcation line, and work to install the speakers will begin this month.

South Korean military officials say the messages can be heard up to 24 kilometers (15 miles) into North Korea in the quiet of the night.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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