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Propaganda leaflets to N. Korea

Posted December. 18, 2010 11:04,   


First-time lawmakers of South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party will have propaganda leaflets dropped on North Korea on major holidays in the North, such as the birthday of heir apparent Jong Un Jan. 8, the birthday of his father and incumbent leader Kim Jong Il Feb. 16, and that of the communist country’s late founder Kim Il Sung April 15. The leaflets are aimed to let North Koreans know the truth about their country. Until now, many South Korean organizations and individuals working to improve human rights in the North have sent flyers, but this is the first time flyers with the names of South Korean lawmakers will be dropped. This will have a significant impact on psychological warfare against the North. Lawmakers Shin Ji-ho, Na Seong-lin, Yoo Il-ho, Lee Doo-ah, Lee Eun-jae and Cho Jeon-hyuk will join the event.

Pyongyang bars independent media from letting its people know about the communist regime’s lies and what is happening in the outside world. Newspapers and broadcasts are trumpeters for the Kim Jong Il government. In this sense, South Korean leaflets, also called “paper bombs,” are media that tell North Koreans the truth. At working-level military talks between the two Koreas on Oct. 2, 2008, the North said, “If South Korean civil groups continue sending leaflets, the inter-Korean industrial project and tourism programs in Kaesong will suffer the consequences.” This shows the North is afraid of the leaflets’ dissemination. When Pyongyang shelled Yeonpyeong Island Nov. 23, the South Korean military dropped 400,000 leaflets on the North. The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland protested this, saying, “The act of sending leaflets at a time when the Korean Peninsula is in a war crisis is an attempt to trigger a South Korean attack on us by forcing the situation to fall into the worst type of confrontation.”

Now is the time for Seoul to actively support psychological warfare against Pyongyang. The South Korean government should support not only the dissemination of propaganda leaflets in the North but also broadcasting to the North by South Korean civil groups that advocate democracy in the communist country. It is a shame that such organizations are operating under the support of the U.S. government. East Germany collapsed partially because East Germans were able to watch West German TV programs. TV channels in North Korea, however, are fixed to watch state-controlled content. If North Koreans begin to know the truth, however, the communist regime cannot be maintained. This is why the North is demanding a halt to South Korea’s loudspeaker broadcasts to the North along the Military Demarcation Line.

The South needs to closely review the content and method of sending leaflets to enhance the effectiveness of the propaganda. In the North, the tearing up and burning of pictures of Kim Jong Il are strictly prohibited, so one suggestion is for leaflets containing Kim’s picture to be coated. In addition, the leaflets’ content should contain the truth of both Koreas that North Koreans must know instead of unilateral criticism of North Korea.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-taek (maypole@donga.com)