SEOUL restarted propaganda broadcasts across the heavily fortified border with North Korea yesterday for the first time in 11 years, blaming Pyongyang for allegedly planting landmines last week that maimed two soldiers.
The renewed loudspeaker broadcasts are certain to heighten already serious tensions between the Koreas and infuriate the North.
South Korea’s military had threatened that there would be unspecified “searing” consequences for the mine blasts in the Seoul-controlled southern part of the demilitarised zone, which has divided the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Seoul officials said that they may take additional punitive measures, depending on how North Korea reacts. It is unclear how long the broadcasts will continue.
The US-led United Nations Command conducted an investigation that blamed North Korea for the mines.
It condemned what it called violations of the armistice, which technically still continues because the participants have never signed a peace treaty.
The soldiers were on a routine patrol near a wire fence on the southern side of the border when the explosions happened. One man lost both legs, while the other lost one.
Both sides stopped the decades-long practice of propaganda warfare along the border in 2004 to reduce tension. It had included loudspeaker and radio broadcasts, billboards and leaflets.
South Korea restarted radio broadcasts and restored 11 loudspeakers four years later as part of measures taken after a warship sinking blamed on North Korea that killed 46 South Korean sailors.
But Seoul did not press ahead with plans to resume loudspeaker broadcasts at the time.