South Korea has decided to dismantle many of speakers used to blast propaganda and K-pop across the DMZ. This was one of many psyop missions to attempt to influence soldiers and civilians from North Korea. Historically, these speakers have also been a profound source of irritation for the North Koreans, even prompting an exchange of artillery and rocket fire in 2015 (this conflict was directly attributed to the loudspeakers by Kim Jong Un).
Taking down the speakers comes after peace talks between South and North Korea have recently taken an unexpectedly positive turn. Both countries have agreed to cease any and all hostile actions toward each other — that includes aggressive psychological and propaganda operations.
Why is this important?
The peace talks between DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in were historic, and much of the world has high hopes for successful negotiations toward peace in the coming months. However, peace from the mouths of politicians does not always result in the future that has been promised. Agendas change, new factors come into play, unforeseen forces are at work behind the curtain — more often than not, it seems like it’s just a matter of time until politicians’ highfalutin pledges become disappointments.
For example, Afghanistan has had policy change after policy change year after year during the war. There have been multiple proclamations from the entire spectrum of politicians — from the White House to the highest echolons of Afghani leadership — all with a “new way forward” that is more decisive than the last. Many on the ground realize that the war is incredibly complicated and easy answers are simply unrealistic (that doesn’t mean that there are no answers). These political figures with little skin in the game are primarily concerned with driving their careers upward than anything, and words and promises are the vehicles that get them there.
At the end of the day, peace cannot be measured by words.
However, it can be measured by action. Of course, large significant actions (such as major military changes or in North Korea’s case, total and permanent denuclearization) are what bring about substantial change. As 2018 progresses, the international community will keep an eye on the major changes in the DPRK to see if they fall in line with these newfound promises of peace that most hope are authentic.
But for every major change, you get a thousand small changes, like the speakers that are being removed now. These small changes add up to more than just a few policies and a couple less speakers — they represent a shift in culture and a way forward. On their own, they are minor and relatively insignificant; in conjunction with one another, they become a permanent shift in the future of two nations who had been on the brink of all out war only months ago.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.