Weapons Of Mass K-Pop

South Korea has (figuratively) enlisted help from an unexpected force in its recent skirmishes with North Korea – K-pop groups like Big Bang and Girls Generation

Photo: AP Photo / S.M. Entertainment
Olympic Gymnasium, Seoul, South Korea

Two weeks ago, the Korean peninsula almost erupted into war. North and South Korea have never signed a peace treaty since the Korean War in the early 1950s, which means that technically they are still at war with each other, but they’ve managed to maintain an uneasy truce over the years.

The latest skirmish involved artillery fire over the DMZ separating the two countries after two South Korean soldiers were seriously injured by North Korean landmines. In retaliation, the South Korean army set up a huge PA system consisting of 48 speakers and started blasting propaganda at the communist north centered on K-pop, mainly songs by the hugely popular Girls Generation and Big Bang.

According to an expert interviewed in the New York Times, the broadcasts seriously “undermine the morale of front-line North Korean troops and its military’s psychological preparedness.”

One of the songs blasted was Girls Generations’ “Tell Me Your Wish,” which was accompanied by a female voice “deriding North Korea’s isolation from the international community,” according to the Washington Post. Other songs seemed to be selected for their titles, including “Bang Bang Bang” and “Meeting.”

It wasn’t until a new agreement between the two countries was hammered out after several days of tense negotiations that the South Korean army took down the PA system.

In return the North Koreans apologized for injuring the two SK soldiers. As one negotiator told the media, the North hates such tactics because it “could destroy the soldiers’ loyalty to the ‘supreme leader’ and shake their faith in the system that’s central to regime survival.” Pop music has that kind of power.