South Korean activists reply to North’s trash balloons with Okay-pop | EUROtoday

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SEOUL — After North Korea not too long ago despatched hundreds of waste-filled balloons to South Korea, activists right here responded with airborne deliveries that the regime up north may discover much more despicable than rubbish: Okay-pop and Okay-dramas.

On Thursday, activists in South Korea set aloft 10 giant balloons containing hundreds of USB drives loaded with native music — together with Okay-pop and trot songs, an old-school South Korean style experiencing a contemporary revival — and “Winter Sonata,” a vastly in style romance TV collection.

Launched after midnight from Pocheon, a metropolis about 30 miles northeast of Seoul, the balloons additionally carried 200,000 leaflets criticizing North Korean chief Kim Jong Un, in addition to 2,000 U.S. $1 payments, in line with a press release from the Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK) group, which is led by North Korean defector Park Sang-hak.

In a press release, FFNK accused North Korea of “indiscriminately dropping” 15 tons of waste on the South by way of balloons, calling it “a display of insult and embarrassment for our 50 million citizens.” The South Korean navy stated that the balloons had been “clear violations of international law and seriously threaten the safety of our citizens.”


Summarized tales to shortly keep knowledgeable

Activists from the South have for years despatched balloons over the border in an try to achieve the individuals there with leaflets, media and even Choco Pies — whereas North Korea has responded a minimum of twice with airborne trash. The South briefly banned sending propaganda leaflets to the North, however the regulation was struck down final yr.

“We sent them truth and fact, love and medicine — and dollar bills, dramas and trot songs,” FFNK stated Thursday of their assertion, including that Kim “has not said a single word of apology” and accusing him of “unprecedented evils.”

FFNK despatched 20 balloons with related contents on May 10, in line with a press launch on its web site, sparking the most recent tit-for-tat balloon launches.

John Lie, a sociologist at University of California at Berkeley, who has written in regards to the historical past of Okay-pop, attributed the group’s current actions partly to the assumption that earlier balloons had been profitable, “at least gauged by the fact that North Korean authorities are responding to what they consider to be ‘trash’ with their trash,” he wrote in an e-mail.

In current years, South Korean tradition has flourished globally, with Okay-pop teams promoting out stadiums, Okay-dramas dominating streaming platforms, and Okay-beauty and Okay-fashion industries booming. But consuming overseas media is an offense in North Korea, and in 2020, Pyongyang adopted a regulation particularly cracking down on Okay-pop and different South Korean cultural content material, media within the South reported.

Freedom House, a Washington-based pro-democracy suppose tank and watchdog, provides North Korea a 3 out of 100 score for civil liberties and political rights.

Relations between the 2 international locations — which by no means formally signed a peace treaty after a 1953 armistice ended hostilities within the Korean War — have been particularly turbulent in current months, with Kim earlier this yr formally abandoning the thought of peaceable reunification with the South, The Washington Post reported.

And balloons full of South Korean tradition may solely serve to focus on that division.

“K-dramas have hooked some North Korean viewers and project the image of wealthy, successful South Korea” in contrast with the North, Lie stated, whereas “pop culture can have a subversive effect on authoritarian” regimes, sparking crackdowns, resembling with jazz within the Soviet Union, he added.

For most South Koreans, Okay-culture “is not only great in and of itself,” Lie stated, “but is also a global brand: the most potent expression of South Korean coolness and greatness.”