K-pop reveals growing tensions between North, South Korea

IN THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of -- Despite heightened tensions since North Korea carried out what it says was its first H-bomb test three weeks ago and indications that it's now preparing to launch a rocket that is bound to bring an international outcry, there is a strange quiet along the northern side of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas.

See Full Article

Quiet, until you listen harder.

Mixed in with magpies flying peacefully overhead and leaves rustling in the freezing winds of the Korean winter, the faint melodies of South Korean pop ballads waft through the air, interspersed with spoken commentaries too weak to really follow but strong enough to discern an accent that is decidedly southern.

The odd mixture of natural calm and the almost imperceptible sounds of "retaliatory" K-pop that have been drifting over the border since North Korea's Jan. 6 nuclear test are yet another unsettling reminder that, like so many things in this hard-to-read country, appearances can deceive.

Surrounded by a deeply dug-in and carefully hidden array of troops ready to attack and artillery batteries ready to fire, this is the world's most heavily fortified border. In a strip of land ridden with intermittent skirmishes and swathed in decades-old animosities, the motto of the U.S. troops stationed merely a stone's throw away -- "Ready to Fight Tonight" -- is a fitting testament to the latent volatility of the world's final Cold War flashpoint.

Perhaps waiting to first find out what kind of response to its nuclear test the United Nations will come up with, the North has so far said hardly a word about the restart of the South's propaganda broadcasts.

But flare-ups can be sudden.

Just a few months ago, the South's decision to restart similar propaganda broadcasts after the death of two South Korean soldiers in a land mine blast so incensed North Korea that it issued an ultimatum to the South that if they weren't stopped, the rock-concert-style banks of speakers on the southern side of the DMZ would be attacked and destroyed, even if that meant going to war. South Korea turned them off.

A Korean People's Army colonel who on Friday escorted an AP Television News crew around a military outpost on the edge of the DMZ seemed almost sanguine about them.

Back in the day, he said, the broadcasts used to be a lot louder. He said that since signing up at age 16 he has spent most of his 40 years in the military assigned to various duty postings around the DMZ. Until 2000, the North broadcast its own propaganda right back at the South.

The colonel, Jon Nam Su, denied reports in the South that it has started doing that again.

"We're not doing that," he said. "But the puppets in the South do what the U.S. wants, and they are saying extremely unreasonable things."

Access to the DMZ on both the North and South sides is heavily controlled.

From the North, there are only two places where foreigners are allowed to go, so it is hard to independently verify if the North hasn't conducted such broadcasts.

From the outpost where Col. Jon spoke, a concrete bunker perched atop a hill that commands a clear view of the DMZ, it is possible to see guard posts in the South that fly both the South Korean and United Nations' flags.

The bunker itself is often used for indoctrination gatherings and tours for foreigners, who are provided with binoculars. A well-worn trail passes below the bunker along the northern edge of the DMZ. North Korean soldiers use it for their patrols.

About 20 kilometres west of the post is the armistice village of Panmunjom, where North and South Korean soldiers are close enough to silently glare at each other at arm's length. But on Friday only a couple of North Korean soldiers stood guard outside the meeting huts that straddle the Military Demarcation line dividing their countries.

The line runs down the centre of the DMZ, with four kilometres of territory -- two in the North and two in the South -- serving as a buffer.

When asked about the tensions since the purported H-bomb test, North Korean army Lt. Col. Nam Dong Chol said his country is not afraid of new sanctions from the UN. Instead, and in line with North Korea's official talking points, he said the time has come to negotiate a peace treaty with the United States.

He noted that the armistice, signed in 1953 in one of the barracks at Panmunjom, ended the fighting in the Korean War but left the two sides in a state of conflict that has gone on for more than six decades.

"To solve the problem on the Korean Peninsula, we have to replace the armistice agreement, which is now just a scrap of paper, with a peace treaty concluded between us and the United States," he said. "A peace treaty, in itself, would show that both sides trust each other, believe in each other, and respect each other. So, concluding a peace treaty would mean solving the Korean Peninsula problem in a peaceful way."

With the current standoff between North Korea and most of the world after its fourth nuclear test likely to get worse in the weeks and months ahead, such a solution seems very, very far away.


Latest Entertainment News

  • Sting to perform, receive honour at American Music Awards

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Sting will hit the stage at the American Music Awards next month, and the icon will receive a special honour for his successful career. Dick Clark Productions said Monday that Sting will receive The American Music Award of Merit on Nov. Source
  • The Walking Dead premiere reveals Negan's victim

    Entertainment CBC News
    SPOILER ALERT: Story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere The Walking Dead has returned with a bloody bang as the victim of bat-wielding bad guy Negan was revealed in the seventh season's premiere. Source
  • Director Tim Miller quits 'Deadpool 2' over issues with Ryan Reynolds

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Director Tim Miller has left Deadpool 2 after creative differences with the movie’s star, Ryan Reynolds. Miller, who directed Deadpool, has parted ways with film studio Fox after butting heads with Reynolds over certain issues relating to the sequel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Source
  • Bob Dylan called 'arrogant' by Nobel Prize member

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Bob Dylan’s failure to acknowledge his Nobel Prize for literature is “impolite and arrogant”, according to a member of the prize-giving body. The 75-year-old singer became the first songwriter to be awarded the prize last week, when the Nobel panel experts praised him for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Source
  • Actress Shailene Woodley faces January trial in pipeline protest

    Entertainment CTV News
    MANDAN, N.D. -- Actress Shailene Woodley is to stand trial in North Dakota early next year on charges related to her protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. Woodley was among 27 activists arrested Oct. Source
  • Paris exhibition explores fashion's shocks and scandals through the ages

    Entertainment CTV News
    The French capital's Musée des Arts Décoratifs explores scandals and transgressions in clothing from the 14th century to the present day in an exhibition entitled "Tenue correcte exigée, quand le vêtement fait scandale" (Appropriate dress required: when clothing causes a scandal), from December 1, 2016, to April 23, 2017. Source
  • Justin Bieber storms off stage over screaming girls

    Entertainment CTV News
    Pop star Justin Bieber apparently doesn't always like the sound of screaming girls at his concerts. Bieber lost his patience in a bizarre moment on stage Sunday in Manchester, when he tossed the microphone away and walked off amid boos from his fans. Source
  • Watch Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn dance to Beyonce's 'Formation'

    Entertainment CTV News
    What do you do if you've got some down time on the film set you're shooting with Goldie Hawn, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack? When you're Amy Schumer, you shoot a parody music video to Beyonce's "Formation. Source
  • DJ Khaled and fiancee welcome baby boy on Snapchat

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- It's a boy for music producer DJ Khaled and his fiancee Nicole Tuck, who welcomed their first child into the world early Sunday morning. Khaled chronicled the birth in a series of snapchats showing the inside of the delivery room where he can be heard telling the doctor that "it's go time. Source
  • Shakespeare will share credit for Henry VI plays with Marlowe

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON — Oxford University Press says its new edition of William Shakespeare's works will co-credit Christopher Marlowe on the three Henry VI plays. The decision announced Monday for the upcoming edition comes after a team of scholars using modern analytical methods revisited the question of whether Shakespeare collaborated with others. Source