Photo from JoongAng Daily.
While the Korean War never officially ended with a full treaty, open hostilities stopped in 1953. However, a new battle, this time with balloons, has launched along the DMZ:
“Civic groups, most of them led by North Korean defectors, launched balloons on Oct. 10 containing at least 1.5 million leaflets critical of the regime. They were launched from Paju and Yeoncheon in northern Gyeonggi, near the inter-Korean border.
In response, the North fired machine-gun rounds at the balloons – fire that the South Korean military returned from Yeoncheon.
After the gunfire exchanges, Pyongyang declared that no high-level talks would take place unless the Park Geun-hye administration stopped the groups in question from sending the fliers. The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) [left-wing party] also urged the government to take action, particularly because the skirmishes threatened the safety of South Korean residents nearby, with Saenuri [right-wing] Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung adding that it was undesirable to provoke the North unnecessarily.”
First off, what an amazing picture — the portraits are of South Korea’s first president, the notoriously corrupt Syngman Rhee, South Korean president and military dictator Park Chung-hee, and his daughter and current South Korean president Park Geun-hye.
Park Chung-hee’s legacy is mixed, to say the least. While many South Koreans view him as a martyred hero, just as many revile him as a heavy-handed dictator. And even the most patriotic South Korean would have difficulty denying that Syngman Rhee was pretty much as corrupt a head of state as could be.
And the dollar bill? Priceless.
The JoongAng Daily talks about the “psychological warfare” currently going on at the border, and one of my adult students mentioned that at elementary school in the 1970’s he and his classmates received prizes for bringing North Korean propaganda fliers to their teachers, so this isn’t a new issue. (Presumably so that someone with a lesser will wouldn’t fall prey to Kim Il-sung’s entreaties.)
And another student told me that when he served at the DMZ in the 1970’s North Korean female solders would bathe naked, conveniently within binocular range, to entice South Korean troops to defect.
That could very well be bullshit, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.