From Propaganda To Folk Music: North Korea Changes Its Tune At The DMZ

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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With an unsteady peace hanging over the Korean Peninsula, things are changing at the tense border that divides North and South Korea.

North Korea has decided to change up its playlist, exchanging depressing propaganda music and militaristic speeches for choral and folk music, according to ABC News. “Instead of a lot of the hard-line speeches, it has gotten softer,” Lt. Cmdr. Daniel McShane, a U.N. Command duty officer, told reporters. “We’ve been hearing a lot more music, and a lot of it has been more classical, especially at night.”

North Korea is apparently not the only one switching things up at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). South Korea has turned down its loudspeakers blasting counter-North Korean propaganda, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The DMZ, a heavily-fortified stretch of land that separates the two Koreas, has been described as the “scariest place on earth.” At the border, dueling loudspeakers blare propaganda at all hours of the night. The South regularly, as part of a psychological warfare campaign, uses its loudspeakers to blast news and information into the North.

Some of the military personnel at the DMZ claim they can recite North Korean speeches by memory because they have heard them many times over the years.

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But, the situation is a little different now that North and South Korea are talking again.

After a year of ignoring South Korea’s requests for dialogue and testing ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs, North Korean dictator suddenly offered to engage the South in dialogue during his New Year’s address last month.

The two sides have since met multiple times at the border and restored dormant diplomatic hotlines. North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the two sides not only marched together in the opening ceremony while carrying a unified Korea banner but also fielded a unified Olympic team.

While the South Korean government sees the Olympics as an opportunity for engagement and peace, North Korea’s intentions are a little less clear. Some observers suspect that North Korea’s peaceful overtures are decidedly less than friendly.

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