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Post by Harry on Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:32 pm

North, South Korea "At The Brink Of War" As Loudspeaker Dispute Spirals Out Of Control (Again)

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/09/2016 12:15 -0500

China KIM North Korea Reuters

Back in August, the Korean Peninsula nearly plunged back into war when Kim Jong-Un reached his limit with the anti-North propaganda being blasted across the DMZ by loudspeakers installed by the South.

For those who missed it, or for anyone in need of a refresher, here’s our account of what happened:

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un - the world’s sabre rattler par excellence - doesn’t like to stray too far from the spotlight when it comes to global conflict, which is why we weren’t terribly surprised when, a few days ago, the pariah state threatened to invade the US mainland and use "weapons unknown to the world."

Of course a lot of what goes on inside the country is "unknown to the world", much as the world is largely "unknown" to North Koreans and that’s just fine with Kim, whose regime depends on a combination of propaganda and censorship to keep the populace transfixed in a perpetual state of hypnotic hero worship. Of course the West and its allies - and now even China - have a tendency to dismiss Kim’s threats as the ravings of a delusional child, which is why occasionally, Pyongyang will actually fire a missile into the ocean or execute a member of the military top brass with an anti-aircraft gun just to remind everyone that the regime isn’t totally bluffing.

Given Pyongyang’s propensity for lobbing bombastic threats that, were they to emanate from virtually any other government on the planet would be met with a sharp rebuke, it’s something of a miracle that sour relations between Kim and US ally South Korea haven’t already produced an armed conflict. That may be about to change because as Bloomberg reports, the "maiming" of two South Korean soldiers along the DMZ and subsequent "blaring of propaganda through loudspeakers" by the South culminated in the exchange of artillery fire, marking the worst escalation between the two countries in five years.

In short, the South blamed the North for planting mines that injured soldiers and in response, persisted in the broadcasting of propaganda. Subsequently, The North threatened to "blow up" the speakers and eventually took a pot shot at one. Next came the artillery exchange and shortly thereafter, Kim declared a state of war.

Tensions eventually eased in what Kim hailed as a kind of diplomatic victory for Pyongyang.

Fast forward four months and the North was busy conducting its fourth nuclear test. As we documented on Wednesday, Pyongyang "successfully" tested what it swears was an H-bomb on Tuesday, drawing universal condemnation from virtually every country on the planet. The North needs an H-bomb, Pyongyang explained, because the US "is a gang of cruel robbers."

Well, in the wake of the nuke test, the South resumed its propaganda broadcasts across the DMZ. The loudspeakers were fired back up on Friday just a day after reports indicated that South Korea is in talks with the US for the deployment of strategic weapons to the Peninsula. The broadcasts "are likely to infuriate" Kim, Reuters wrote.

Sure enough, the North now says the resumption of the broadcasts (which Pyongyang considers to be an "act of war") have brought the two countries to "the brink of war." Here's AP with the absurd details:

North Korea warned of war as South Korea on Saturday 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 on Friday 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 U.S. 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 TV late Friday.

South Korean troops, near about 10 sites where loudspeakers started blaring propaganda Friday, 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 Saturday.

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 (miles) 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. "Countries run by dictatorships even try to control human instincts."

And here's an image which purports to depict two South Korean soldiers fine tuning the speakers:

Although we're quite sure the humor inherent in the above isn't lost on readers, we'd be remiss not to highlight the fact that this is just about the most irksome thing someone could do to a man like Kim.

The Supreme Leader is desperate to defend the legitimacy of his government and to preserve the legacy of his father and grandfather. That means keeping the public in a perpetual state of awe and conveying an air of divine authority, unshakable will, and absolute power. The fact that the South sets up loudspeakers on his border and blasts a mishmash of South Korean pop music and anti-Pyongyang agitprop loud enough to be heard 15 miles away is just about the most irritating slap in the face imaginable for the young leader.

Adding insult to injury: Friday was Kim's birthday.

But just because Kim likely knows he can't realistically challenge the South militarily without provoking big brother in Washington doesn't mean an "accident" across the DMZ couldn't inadvertently bring the two countries to blows. And all over some speakers...


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