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Psychological Warfare

Posted May. 28, 2010 15:07,   


North Korea is keenly reacting to South Korea’s resumption of psychological warfare against the communist country. South Korean media said, “Due to the time needed for preparation, broadcasting through loudspeakers will begin two weeks later and electronic display boards will begin operations four to five months later,” adding, “The South Korean military said Monday that the dropping of leaflets on the North would be delayed one day due to unfavorable weather, but it failed to drop them Wednesday despite fine weather.” One expert says, “Psychological warfare against the North has begun and is smoothly being carried out.” This means that the announcement of the resumption of psychological warfare, the dropping of leaflets, and their delays are in and of themselves high-level psychological warfare. Pyongyang threatened that if loudspeakers are erected, it will fire at them and shut down the Kaesong industrial complex. This shows that the North has surrendered to the South’s psychological warfare.

Broadcasting of the “Voice of Freedom” has also been resumed. The broadcast is to counter North Korea’s “Voice of National Salvation” and its existence had been a secret until recently. Before its suspension in 2004 under an inter-Korean agreement, Voice of Freedom broadcasts had been carried out as sophisticated psychological warfare that “Korean Race Broadcasting” of KBS and “Free Asia” of the U.S. could not match. A news anchorwoman with a gentle voice gave commentaries on issues that North Koreans could sympathize with. Like a dead tree rotting inside, the broadcasts contributed to North Korea’s collapse from inside.

In psychological warfare, the side that flinches loses. If the South Korean people cave in to haphazard threats from North Korea and begin hoarding goods and leaving the country, the South will lose. In 2004, Seoul lost a game that it had been winning. A lieutenant colonel and psychologist, who led psychological warfare at the time, said, “We were overthrowing the North Korean leadership without firing a gun. This was the genuine sunshine policy that would lead to reunification…but we failed.” He criticized the then Roh Moo-hyun administration for agreeing to stop psychological warfare between the two Koreas and left the military.

The means of psychological warfare in World War II and the Korean War were limited to loudspeakers, radios and leaflets, but the methods are now limitless. If the North opens fire at loudspeakers, the South can post pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il with a wide smile on the loudspeakers. Seoul can then drop leaflets containing the tattered pictures of Kim that Pyongyang fired on. Referring to the North Korean leader without a title is another method of psychological warfare, which can lay the groundwork for Korean unification by inspiring civic uprisings in the North.

Editorial Writer Lee Jeong-hoon (hoon@donga.com)