North Korea may have attracted global concern this week after producing a big bang in a blast that the country's leadership claimed was a hydrogen bomb test (a claim widely disputed by the international community based on lighter than expected seismic activity, according to the New York Times).
But come Friday, South Korea had unleashed their own Big Bang, blasting the K-pop boy band's summer smash "Bang Bang Bang" at the border through a mammoth speaker system as retaliation for Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un's apparent attempt at a display of power in his country's northeast coast on the week of his 33rd birthday.
Other Hallyu hits on the South Korean military's playlist included Gfriend's single "Me Gustas Tu," and Apink's 2012 track "Let Us Just Love" written for the South Korean television comedy series "Protect The Boss," the UK publication the Guardian reports. Viral singing sensation Lee Ae Ran is also included in the sonic assault, along with news reports and panel discussions on human rights, the AP stated on Thursday.
"We have selected a diverse range of the most recent popular hits to make it interesting," a South Korean defense ministry official said at a local press briefing.
The 48-speaker setup was originally installed at 11 locations in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas back in 2010, after naval soldiers from the North torpedoed the South's Cheonan warship, killing 46 servicemen. After a tentative agreement was reached, the speakers had fallen silent before being fired up back in August following the first artillery exchange between the two warring nations in five years.
Big Bang's "Bang Bang Bang," released on June 1, was also the musical weapon of choice for the South Korean government back then, according to the website Koreaboo. The Washington Post reported the 2009 Girls' Generation release "Tell Me Your Wish" and Noh Sa Yeon's 1989 hit "Meeting" were also played at the border.
And though South Korea's pop-fueled propaganda campaign this week has received Western media coverage featuring reporters' tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, this is no laughing matter for the supreme leader, according to senior research fellow Park Chang Kwon at Seoul's state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.
"Kim Jong Un isn't your typical dictator," Park told Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday.
"He's a god in North Korea and propaganda broadcasts raise questions among North Koreans about that. Broadcasts from South Korea can reach deep and far into North Korea's society, imbuing the minds of its people with the images of a free nation and hurting the oppressive personality cult."
According to a statement made from a South Korean defense ministry official to the government-funded media outlet Yonhap earlier this week, the weaponized K-pop strategy is not something that nation is taking lightly either.
"If North Korea attacks the loudspeakers, we will immediately retaliate," he said.