Propaganda war escalates; use of loudspeakers mulled

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Propaganda war escalates; use of loudspeakers mulled

Anti-North Korea propaganda fliers continue to be sent across the Demilitarized Zone following the North’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island two weeks ago, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

“The fliers are being sent over whenever the wind is right,” a ministry official said yesterday.

The fliers have been prepared in five regions near the border, including Yeoncheon and Paju in Gyeonggi. Depending on wind speed and direction, some are likely to have landed in the area around Pyongyang.

The South Korean military has flown tens of thousands of fliers into North Korean territory as a means to retaliate against the North’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island. The official also added that the South is prepared to broadcast propaganda along the DMZ and that the ministry is “weighing the timing.”

Loudspeakers are already installed in 11 areas along the DMZ for further propaganda attacks. North Korea had strongly protested propaganda broadcasts in the past and the two Koreas had agreed in 2004 to suspend them.

Once the loudspeakers are turned to full volume, the broadcasts can cover a radius of roughly 10 kilometers (6 miles) during the day and about 24 kilometers at night.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission in South Korea is backing the government’s decision to increase anti-North propaganda. The commission voted on Monday to fully support anti-North Korea broadcasts as well as fliers.

Members of the commission agreed that the government should work with civilian groups in an effort to let North Korean citizens be aware of international issues and South Korean culture. The commission’s recommendation will now be sent to the ministers of unification, defense and culture, carrying information on how to “enable North Korean citizens to freely approach” the outside world.

“We cannot just sit and watch the situation that North Korean citizens are in,” said commission chairman Hyun Byung-chul. “We should deal with North Koreans’ human rights and provide them with facts and information that can help them think and make decisions [on their own].”

A plan to vote on the issue was tabled in June, with the commission saying the matter was outside its domain.

Monday’s decision passed easily, with the panel now having a majority of conservative members after the recent mass resignations of liberal commissioners due to internal conflict with the chairman.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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