North Korean President Kim Jong Un celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday. South Korea’s gift to him? A mix of anti-Kim rhetoric and K-pop music blasted from giant loudspeakers set up on the border between the two countries.
The broadcasts enrage the paranoid North Korean regime, which sees them as a direct threat to Pyongyang’s control over what information its citizens consume.
This time around, they are Seoul’s direct response to North Korea’s claims that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday. In August, the loudspeakers were played for the first time in 11 years after two South Korean soldiers were wounded by North Korean landmines.
Some North Korea watchers believe that the nuclear test was a response to China’s embarrassing rebuff in December of a scheduled performance by North Korea’s Moranbong Band, an all-female music group. The same day that the band was scheduled to perform for top Communist Party officials, Kim announced that North Korea had the technology to build a hydrogen bomb. Within 48 hours, China had decided to send lower-ranking officials to the concert instead, and North Korea pulled the plug on the concert and hastily flew the musicians home.
The border broadcast’s songs and messages are chosen by the South Korean military’s psychological department, and Pyongyang considers them an act of war. A Defense Ministry official told reporters this week that the South Korean military had “selected a diverse range of the most recent popular hits to make it interesting.”
Watch below to see soldiers monitoring the loudspeakers and what they chose to include on their Friday playlist:
One of the songs chosen was “Bang Bang Bang” by the popular boy band Big Bang. Watch it with English subtitles below.
Love songs are reportedly a powerful message for North Koreans that music without a political message is possible. “Me Gustas Tú” by girl band GFriend uses the Spanish phrase “I like you”:
They also played “Please Let Us Love” by the Korean girl group A Pink.
Photo credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images