It’s election day in South Korea. The South has retreated, for the moment, from its plans to use psyops to influence public opinion in North Korea, but the converse certainly isn’t true. North Korea has a well developed, firmly rooted cadre of sympathizers, fifth columnists, spies, and the occasional hit team in South Korea, and the National Intelligence Service thinks they were actively campaigning on election day:
A South Korean intelligence officer on Tuesday said Pyongyang is posting articles on major websites denying all accusations. “The North used stolen residence registration numbers and IDs of South Koreans,” he said. The posts are broadly the same as a statement from the North’s National Defense Commission, its top policy body. It was uploaded on the state-run North Korean website Urimizokkiri.
This isn’t North Korea’s first foray into South Korean politics. Recall that North Korea once had the Democratic Labor Party so thoroughly infiltrated that its agents within the party tried to throw the Seoul mayoral election to the ruling Uri Party by getting the DLP candidate to withdraw at the last minute.
It wouldn’t bother me a great deal if the South Korean government shelved forever those plans to turn on propaganda loudspeakers and electric sign boards at the DMZ. It’s unlikely they’d have much effect anyway, and they raise a real risk that the North Koreans would start shooting across the DMZ. Far better to put up some tall cell phone towers on the mountains overlooking the DMZ, flood the North with cheap phones, and set up a call center where South Korean operators can locate long-lost relatives for North Korean callers.
Related: CNN has more on the North Korean refugees who are determined to subvert the political system under which they could not live.