Seoul and Beijing to discuss response to Pyongyang's N-test

South Korea installing message boards along border as part of psychological warfare

SEOUL • Defence officials from South Korea and China will meet today to discuss North Korea's latest nuclear test, Yonhap news agency reported, after the South and the United States put pressure on China to rein in its neighbour.

Senior defence officials of South Korea and China will meet in Seoul in an annual forum and discuss a joint response to the test, the South Korean news agency reported. A South Korean Defence Ministry official could not immediately confirm the report.

North Korea said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb on Jan 6, again raising questions about what can be done to stop its development of nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye called on China on Wednesday to use its influence over North Korea to press it to end its nuclear programme, adding China could use its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council to help draw up effective sanctions. She said: "I believe the Chinese government will not allow the situation on the Korean peninsula to deteriorate further."

China is the North's main ally and trade partner, and China's ties with US ally South Korea have grown closer in recent years.

US special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim met his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul on Wednesday and said they had agreed that a "meaningful" new sanctions resolution was needed from the Security Council.

"I hope the Chinese authorities agree with us that we simply cannot take a business-as-usual approach to this latest provocation," he said.

In response to the test, South Korea's Defence Ministry said yesterday that it is preparing to escalate its psychological warfare against the North by installing giant electronic message boards along the border.

The old electronic bulletin boards resembled electronic scoreboards at sports stadiums, another military official said. The media said the screens were last used in 2004.

The bulletin boards in the past carried slogans such as "Come over to the Republic of Korea", South Korea's official name, and "North Korea is a difficult place".

South Korea has already set up walls of loudspeakers on the border that have been blaring bursts of anti-North Korean slogans and K-pop since last Friday. Ms Park said on Wednesday the loudspeaker broadcasts were "the most effective and certain tool for psychological warfare". She added: "According to defectors who served on the North's front line... they came to believe it, then crossed the border. The power of truth is the strongest threat to a totalitarian regime."

North Korea appears to have res-ponded with its own psychological operations. It is suspected of sending hot-air balloons dropping leaflets critical of the Seoul government into the South on recent nights. It is also using its own loudspeaker broadcasts, although South Korean officials said those seem to be intended to muffle the broadcasts from the South.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2016, with the headline 'Seoul and Beijing to discuss response to Pyongyang's N-test'. Print Edition | Subscribe