Beatrice Murray-Nag | Contributing Writer | Friday, 8 January 2016

South Korea Are Trolling North Korea And It’s H-Bomb versus K-Pop

South Korea Is Trolling North Korea And It’s H-Bomb versus K-Pop

The Debrief: Protest goes Gangnam Style as the South blast power-pop music over the Korean border

South Korea is using genuinely using 11 banks of high-wattage speakers to boom national pop hits into North Korea and no, it’s not in the name of hosting a mega-rave for Kim Jong-un’s B-day today.  

No, the South Koreans are using their sound system to protest against Pyongyang’s hydrogen bomb test by broadcasting criticism of Noth Korea’s nuclear policies, economical status and human rights abuses, interweaved with a secret weapon… you got it, K-pop. 

The speakers, which blast out sound that travels up to 24km during the night and 10km during the day, were first used in August 2015, but South Korea ceased their broadcasts in a bid to reduce tensions. In fact, there was a bit of a stand off, not dissimilar to your housemate asking you to turn your music down. But more like ‘Turn your music down or we’ll gun down your speakers.’ 

However, five months, one bomb test and a 5.1 magnitude earthquake down the line, they once again reached for the volume control and decided that power-pop was the antidote to nuclear warfare.

South Korea kicked off the party with one of the most viewed K-pop hits from last year, ironically entitled Bang Bang Bang, by the band Big Bang. Nice and subtle, guys. Slightly more inconspicuously, they also blasted out Lee Ae-rain’s mega hit 100 Years Of Life, with a tongue-in-cheek jab at the 10-year difference in life expectancy between the two countries.

The broadcasts also targeted Kim Jong-un and his wife, condemning their penchant for expensive clothes and bags, racking up to tens of thousands of dollars. 

Sadly, the supreme leader doesn’t seem to be embracing the surprise birthday bash, and has deemed the propaganda ‘an act of psychological warfare.’  North Koreans are prohibited from listening to K-pop and restricted to only playing government controlled radio stations, although it’s suspected that many try to sneak it into the country on USBs. 

Sure, trolling your enemies with power-pop sounds like a humorous manner of protesting, and many see the South as simply rising to North Korea’s bait by reacting to their hydrogen bomb test. However, when it comes to non-violent protest, the sheer ‘joie-de-vivre’ of Korean pop music conveys an important message. 

While an announcer claimed that ‘the nuclear test is making North Korea more isolated and turning it into a land of death,’ the South’s upbeat retaliation conveys an important message about the importance of democracy and having the freedom to enjoy life and love.

Juxtaposing nuclear warfare with upbeat pop music creates a stark contrast between the two countries. While the South boasts an established democracy and stable economy, the North remains one of the world’s few countries where even Netflix is prohibited. 

The answer to threats of nuclear warfare remains unknown, but as retaliation goes, K-pop is one of our favourites. Turn it up, Seoul, we can’t hear it over here!

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Follow Beatrice on Twitter @beatricemn_


Tags: Politics Meets Pop Culture