S.Korea to resume propaganda broadcast in border areas with DPRK

2016-01-07 10:23:24 GMT2016-01-07 18:23:24(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's presidential office said Thursday that the country will resume propaganda broadcasts from Friday noon with loudspeakers in border areas with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Cho Tae-Yong, the first deputy chief of the presidential security office, made the announcement in a press briefing of the planned resumption, which the DPRK had called a"direct act of declaring war."

The South Korean military stopped the broadcasting after the Aug. 25 agreement reached last year between top-level military advisors to South Korean President Park Geun-hye and top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The resumption would come after the DPRK announced on Wednesday its first successful test of a "hydrogen bomb." It marked the fourth in total and the second since top leader Kim took power in 2011. The DPRK's previous nuke tests were conducted in 2006, 2009 and 2013, respectively.

Cho said that Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test, which was staged in defiance of repeated warnings from Seoul and the international society, was in direct violation of promises and obligations like UN Security Council resolutions.

The nuclear test was also in a grave violation of the Aug. 25 agreement, Cho said, noting that it was an abnormal situation stipulated in the agreement, in which the propaganda broadcasts can be resumed under such conditions.

In accordance with the Aug. 25 agreement, the South Korean government decided to resume the broadcasts with loudspeakers in frontline areas from noon on Jan. 8, Cho said.

The South Korean military, which has maintained a full defense posture, will sternly retaliate against any possible DPRK provocations, he added.

The propaganda broadcast was restarted by Seoul in August 2015, for the first time in 11 years, in retaliation for the DPRK's provocation that maimed two South Korean soldiers on a patrol duty in frontline units on Aug. 4.

Landmines, which Seoul claimed had been planted by DPRK forces, exploded and injured the soldiers. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.

The restarted broadcasts led to a rare exchange of fire between the two Koreas across the border on Aug. 20 last year.

At the time, South Korea and the DPRK had put their troops on highest alert, escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula that were lowered after the Aug. 25 agreement.

The resumed broadcasts along the inter-Korean land border are expected to re-escalate tensions on the peninsula as the DPRK responded very sensitively to the criticism of the"supreme dignity"of its leader Kim Jong Un.

"Super hard-line reaction is highly likely to come" from the DPRK against the restarted broadcast, Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute think tank, said on the phone.

Cheong said that the DPRK military is extremely sensitive to the criticism of their supreme dignity, noting that the resumption may cause DPRK threats of aimed shots at the loudspeakers.

The analyst warned that the resumption may push the Korean Peninsula to the brink of armed conflicts as seen in August last year.

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