South Korean soldiers of the Mt. Baekdu Unit in Gangwon Province, the northernmost observation post in the South, were busy on Monday dusting off loudspeakers used in psychological warfare operations that been stored in warehouses for the last six years. They brought them out following the Defense Ministry’s announcement on Monday that it will resume propaganda broadcasts across the border.
Soldiers initially checked to see if the 4 m by 3 m 500-watt speakers are operational. Those speakers had been at the forefront of psychological warfare operations against North Korea until they were dismantled in June 2004 following an inter-Korean agreement. Twenty-four speakers are tied together into one set to deliver news, weather information and music to North Korean soldiers and villagers across the border. The sounds can be heard 10-12 km away and as far as 24 km away in the stillness of night. Each set costs around W200 million (US$1=W1,214) to produce.
“These devices were the biggest nuisance for the North Korean military, because they are apparently effective in undermining the ideological morale of the troops,” a military officer said.
Some 94 loudspeakers along the border and 11 massive electronic display boards will be set up again. The display boards, measuring 110 m by 17 m, show propaganda slogans at night. It will take four to five months to get them running.
In addition to loudspeakers and electronic billboards, South Korea uses radio broadcasts and leaflets to carry out psychological warfare operations against North Korea. The Defense Ministry began FM radio broadcasts aimed at North Korea at 6 p.m. on Monday. The four-hour daily broadcast contain programs touting the superiority of democracy, the economic development of South Korea and comparisons between the North and South, as well as music. The broadcasts will be aired three times a day. Propaganda leaflets will be dropped over North Korean airspace as soon as weather conditions permit. Rainy weather prevented leaflets from being sent on Monday.
Meanwhile, the North warned that South Korea would be held entirely responsible for the “destructive consequences” of resuming psychological warfare. “If South Korea sets up new tools for psychological warfare such as loudspeakers and leaves slogans for psychological warfare intact, ignoring our demands, we will directly aim and open fire to destroy them,” it said.
North Korea is also expected to set up its own loudspeakers — 108 in total — which it also used to criticize South Korea until six years ago, and will resume broadcasting anti-South Korean and anti-American propaganda messages.