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.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Tracy Morgan: Alive and kicking

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. If you're cynical about the old adage, then let us reintroduce you to Tracy Morgan. The Bronx, New York native has a history of adversity from losing his heroin-addicted war vet father - who abandoned him at just six years old - to AIDS when Morgan was just 19; failing as a crack cocaine dealer while being on welfare as a young, married father and husband; grappling with his best friend's murder; and successfully battling alcohol addiction which had led to…
  • Five key moments from the 2017 Cannes closing ceremony

    Entertainment CTV News
    Talking points from this year's surprisingly sober Cannes closing ceremony include the intense joy of Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, winner of the Palme d'Or for "The Square", Diane Kruger's overwhelming emotion, the laidback attitude of Joaquin Phoenix, Will Smith's endless humour, a special award for Nicole Kidman and the absence of Sofia Coppola. Source
  • Philadelphia's music legacy is vast but hard to find

    Entertainment CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA -- Detroit has the Motown Museum. Mississippi has a blues trail. Memphis has Graceland, Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul. But in Philadelphia -- birthplace of the lush acoustic style known as The Sound of Philadelphia and the hometown of "American Bandstand" and Chubby Checker's "Twist" -- there's no major place of pilgrimage for music fans. Source
  • How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie -- at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. Source
  • 'The Fate Of The Furious' speeds past $1 billion internationally [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Fate Of The Furious has become only the sixth film in Hollywood history to speed past the $1 billion mark at the international box office. The eighth installment of the street racing franchise, starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Charlize Theron, officially crossed the huge milestone outside of the North American market on Sunday. Source
  • Will Smith's son, Jaden, blasts Toronto hotel staff for 'spiked' breakfast

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jaden Smith has criticised staff at a top Toronto, Canada hotel after alleging his breakfast was “spiked” with cheese. The Karate Kid actor, the son of Hollywood stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, had been residing at the Four Seasons hotel while shooting a new movie in the city, but it appears he has been forced to find a new place to stay after an incident on Saturday. Source
  • 'Pirates of the Caribbean' sinks 'Baywatch' at box office

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — It was smooth sailing to the top spot at the box office for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but the waters were choppier for the Dwayne Johnson comedy Baywatch. Studio estimates on Sunday say the fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise commandeered US$62.2 million in its first three days in theatres. Source
  • Swedish film The Square wins Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Fest

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Square, a Swedish movie about the curator of a museum filled with grotesquely pretentious conceptual art was awarded the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday. Sofia Coppola won best director for The Beguiled, Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for You Were Never Really Here and Diane Kruger best actress for the German-language movie In the Fade. Source
  • 'The Square' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Cannes Film Festival jury has awarded its coveted Palme d’Or award to Ruben Ostlund’s The Square. “Oh my god! OK,” the Swedish filmmaker exclaimed after he bounded onto the stage to collect the prize. He led the crowd in a cheer, too. Source
  • Father of 3 young Ariana Grande fans posts open letter after Manchester bombing

    Entertainment CBC News
    A father of three Ariana Grande fans is telling the 23-year-old singer to keep making music following the Manchester bombing that happened after her concert last week. Patrick Millsaps, an American film producer with a 13-year-old and two 12-year-old daughters, posted an open letter on Twitter that has been re-tweeted thousands of times and has received likes from pop stars Taylor Swift, Miley Ray Cyrus and Grande herself. Source