Thursday, May 12, 2016

Peace village, the empty North Korean propaganda village


Kijŏng-dong, also known as 'Peace village' is one of the only 2 villages allowed inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. According to the North Korean government the village contains a 200-family collective farm, serviced by a childcare center, kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, and a hospital.

Observations from the south though paint a very different image. According to South Korea the village was built in the 1950s in a propaganda effort to encourage South Korean defections and to house the DPRK soldiers manning the network of artillery positions, fortifications and underground marshalling bunkers that surround the border zone.

According to observations, the brightly painted multi-story buildings of Kijŏng-dong are just concrete shells lacking window glass or even interior rooms, with building lights turned on and off at set times and empty sidewalks swept by caretakers in an effort to preserve the illusion of activity, while the village is surrounded by extensive cultivated fields.

Massive loudspeakers mounted on several of the buildings deliver DPRK propaganda broadcasts directed towards the South. While originally their content aimed to induce defections from the South, it later switched to condemnatory anti-Western speeches, agitprop operas, and patriotic marching music for up to 20 hours a day. Between 2004 and 2016 both North and South agreed to mutually end their loudspeaker broadcasts, they broadcasts have since resumed after escalating tensions as a result of the 2016 nuclear test.

In the 1980's North Koreans built a huge flagpole standing at 160 m (525 ft) over the village with a 270 kg (595 lb) flag of North Korea which was then the tallest flagpole in the world (today, the 4th tallest). It was built as a response to a 98.4 m (323 ft) tall flagpole from the South Korean side in what became known as the "flagpole war". 




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