South Korea continues anti-North Korea broadcasts as leaders debate response

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - As world leaders debated ways to penalize North Korea's claim of a fourth nuclear test, South Korea voiced its displeasure with broadcasts of anti-Pyongyang propaganda across the rivals' tense border Friday, believed to be the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

See Full Article

The broadcasts will draw a furious response from North Korea, which considers them an act of psychological warfare. Pyongyang is extremely sensitive to any outside criticism of the authoritarian leadership of Kim, the third member of his family to rule. When South Korea briefly resumed propaganda broadcasts in August after an 11-year break, Seoul says the two Koreas exchanged artillery fire, followed by threats of war.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that frontline troops, near 11 sites where propaganda loudspeakers started blaring messages at noon (0300 GMT), were on highest alert. Yonhap said Seoul had deployed missiles, artillery and other weapons systems near the border to swiftly deal with any possible North Korean provocation. South Korea's Defence Ministry couldn't confirm the reports.

North Korea didn't immediately react, but its response could be especially harsh because of the high emotions surrounding the likely birthday of Kim, who is believed to be in his early 30s. North Korean military forces often compete to show their loyalty to the leader. The North's state media has yet to mention Kim's birthday or South Korea's loudspeaker campaign.

The broadcasts came as world powers sought to find other ways to punish the North for its widely disputed claim to have conducted its first hydrogen bomb test.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China, the North's only major ally and its biggest aid provider, to end "business as usual" with North Korea after the test.

At a UN Security Council emergency session, diplomats pledged to swiftly pursue new sanctions against North Korea, saying its test was a 'clear violation' of previous UN resolutions. North Korea is already heavily sanctioned. For current sanctions and any new penalties to work, better co-operation and stronger implementation from Pyongyang's protector China is seen as key.

It may take weeks or longer to confirm or refute the North's claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal. But even a test of an atomic bomb, a less sophisticated and less powerful weapon, would push its scientists and engineers closer to their goal of building a nuclear warhead small enough to place on a missile that can reach the U.S. mainland.

Later Friday, South Korea was to announce the results of its first round of investigations of samples collected from sea operations to see if radioactive elements leaked from the North's test, according to the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Friday asked South Korea to refrain from the propaganda broadcasts. But South Korea sees K-pop and propaganda as quick ways to show its displeasure - and a guaranteed way to get a rise from the North's sensitive and proud leadership.

The broadcasts include popular Korean pop songs, world news and weather forecasts as well as criticism of the North's nuclear test, its troubled economy and dire human rights conditions, according to Seoul's Defence Ministry.

Performers on Seoul's propaganda playlist include a female K-pop band that rose to fame when its members fell multiple times on stage, a middle-aged singer who rose from obscurity last year with a song about living for 100 years and songs by a young female singer, IU, whose sweet, girlish voice might be aimed at North Korean soldiers deployed near the border.

North Koreans are prohibited from listening to K-pop. Despite that, North Korean defectors say South Korean music is popular in their home country, with songs and other elements of South Korea popular culture smuggled in on USB sticks and DVDs.

August's broadcasts, which began after Seoul blamed Pyongyang for land mine explosions that maimed two South Korean soldiers, stopped only after the rivals agreed on a set of measures aimed at easing anger.

President Barack Obama, in talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reaffirmed the "unshakeable U.S. commitment" to the security of the two Asian allies. Separate statements from the White House said Obama and the two Asian leaders also agreed to countries "agreed to work together to forge a united and strong international response to North Korea's latest reckless behaviour."

South Korean and U.S. military leaders also discussed the deployment of U.S. "strategic assets" in the wake of the North's test, Seoul's Defence Ministry said.

Ministry officials refused to elaborate about what U.S. military assets were under consideration, but they likely refer to B-52 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and nuclear-powered submarines.

When animosities sharply rose in the spring of 2013 following North Korea's third nuclear test, the U.S. took the unusual step of sending its most powerful warplanes - B-2 stealth bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 bombers - to drills with South Korea in a show of force. B-2 and B-52 bombers are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The North's claim of a successful test drew extreme skepticism abroad.

An early analysis by the U.S. government was "not consistent with the claims that the regime has made of a successful hydrogen bomb test," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

South Korea's spy service said it thought the estimated explosive yield from the blast was much smaller than what even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation would produce.

To build its nuclear program, the North must explode new and more advanced devices so scientists can improve their designs and technology. Nuclear-tipped missiles could then be used as deterrents and diplomatic bargaining chips - especially against the U.S., which Pyongyang has long pushed to withdraw its troops from the region and to sign a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War.

-----

Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'I'm doing OK': Hillary Clinton speaks at alma mater

    World News CTV News
    Forty-eight years after delivering the first speech as a class president of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater to address the graduates of 2017. Her 30-minute speech was peppered with some wry jokes about her election loss to Republican nominee Donald Trump and barely veiled warnings about his controversial administration. Source
  • U.S. plans first test of ICBM intercept, with North Korea in mind

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Preparing for North Korea's growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test next week. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. Source
  • Former Edmonton teacher charged with child pornography offences

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A former Edmonton teacher has been charged with possessing, accessing, and making available child pornography in an investigation that began late last year. Alberta's Internet Child Exploitation investigators and Edmonton Police Service officers arrested the 26-year-old man at his home Wednesday where they seized a number of computer and electronic devices as part of their investigation. Source
  • Alleged Yahoo hacker to appeal ruling that denied him bail in June

    Canada News CTV News
    A Canadian accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails will be back in court next month to contest a judge's decision to deny him bail. Ontario Superior Court Justice Alan Whitten said last month that Karim Baratov, 22, is too much of a flight risk given his easy access to money and his ability to ply his alleged trade from anywhere in the world. Source
  • Edmonton junior high teacher fired after arrest on child pornography charges

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- A junior high school teacher in Edmonton who is also a private music instructor is facing three child pornography charges. Police say they started investigating last December after a referral from the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre about someone uploading child porn. Source
  • A look at extremist attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christians

    World News CTV News
    An attack Friday on Egypt's Coptic Christians in which masked militants opened fire on a bus south of Cairo, killing at least 28 people and wounding 22, sent shockwaves through the Copt community, increasingly targeted by the Islamic State group and affiliated militants. Source
  • Floods, mudslides kill 91 in Sri Lanka

    World News CBC News
    Floods and torrents of mud unleashed by heavy rains in Sri Lanka killed 91 people and left 110 others missing Friday. Authorities appealed for international help for rescue and relief operations. The Disaster Management Center said 2,040 people were evacuated to safer locations and more than 61,000 were affected by the rain that started early Friday. Source
  • Militants open fire on bus carrying Christians in Egypt, killing 28 – including kids – and wounding 22

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAIRO - Masked gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians south of the Egyptian capital on Friday, killing at least 26 people, including children, and wounding 25, officials said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Source
  • N.L. woman heartbroken after local SPCA puts down three-day-old moose

    Canada News CTV News
    GANDER, N.L. -- A Newfoundland woman who bottle-fed a baby moose after it got lost in the woods without its mother is reeling after the local SPCA put the animal down. Brandi Calder says her husband was building a cabin in the woods near Glenwood when he heard a strange crying noise and discovered the three-day-old calf on its own with no sign of its mother. Source
  • Drug addicts offered $300 for long-term sterilization

    World News Toronto Sun
    Drug addicts looking for a fix can call Barbara Harris. The North Carolina woman is offering users $300 for sterility. “We’re not a drug rehab program,” Harris bluntly stated to WKRG while on tour recently in Mobile, Ala. Source