South Korea to resume loudspeaker broadcasts after North's rubbish-filled balloons

Broadcasts may provoke North Korea to launch new missiles, experts say

A soldier works on a loudspeaker set up for propaganda broadcasts during a military drill near the demilitarised zone in Paju, South Korea. Reuters
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South Korea announced that it would resume loudspeaker propaganda campaigns against North Korea on Sunday after Pyongyang sent a fresh barrage of rubbish-filled balloons across the border.

“We will install loudspeakers against North Korea today and carry out the broadcast,” the President's office said.

It added that “the responsibility for the escalation of tension between the two Koreas will be entirely up to the North”.

North Korea sent more than 300 trash-filled balloons across the border in a fresh blitz starting on Saturday, Seoul's military said, with the President's office saying this had forced it to take “corresponding measures”.

In recent weeks, activists in the South have floated dozens of balloons bearing K-pop, dollar bills and anti-Kim Jong-un propaganda northwards, infuriating Pyongyang, which has retaliated.

Pyongyang sent about a thousand balloons carrying cigarette butts and toilet paper across the border in May and last month, before calling off its campaign.

It restarted on Saturday in response to launches last week by the activists, which Seoul's government is almost entirely legally powerless to prevent.

“North Korea is making another low-class provocation with trash balloons against our civilian areas,” wrote Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon on Facebook.

Seoul's military said an “analysis shows there were no substances that were harmful to safety,” with the latest batch of balloons containing paper and plastic.

Seoul's move to resume the loudspeaker broadcasts could have serious implications, experts said.

“There is a high possibility the resuming of speakers could lead to an armed conflict,” Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Korean peninsula strategy at Sejong Institute, told AFP.

“With the resuming of the speakers, North Korea will not stay put. It is likely that North Korea will resume firing in the West Sea or fire at the balloons if the South sends any again.”

Updated: June 09, 2024, 12:22 PM