Seoul (AFP) – The recent up-beat K-pop hit “Bang, Bang, Bang” and a mournful ballad about a “death angel,” were on the playlist when South Korea restarted propaganda broadcasts into the North on Friday.
As North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un celebrated his birthday, giant banks of loudspeakers blasted the musical serenade across the border, together with messages criticising Kim’s regime and extolling the virtues of democracy.
The broadcasts, which have infuriated Pyongyang in the past, were resumed in response to the North’s latest nuclear test on Wednesday.
“We have selected a diverse range of the most recent popular hits to make it interesting,” a defence ministry official said in a briefing for local reporters on Friday.
The songs and lyrics covered an eclectic range of styles and subjects, with contributions from the likes of A-list boy band Big Bang and the girl band GFriend.
Big Bang’s slightly raunchy dance hit with its “Like you’ve been shot/Bang Bang Bang” chorus, contrasted with the more plaintive tone of GFriend’s offering — sample lyric: “We’re both so shy/But I wanna go closer to you.”
The ministry gave no indication that the songs had been chosen with the intention of sending any underlying message to the North.
The one non K-pop song on the list is something of an oddity — a ballad called “A Centennial Life” which became a surprise hit for the veteran singer Lee Ae-Ran, 52, when she released it in March last year.
A fusion of Korean traditional and popular music, its chorus is lifted from the most famous of all Korean folk songs “Arirang” which is beloved on both sides of the border.
Lee’s song tells of someone being visited every decade by the “death angel” but refusing to be taken because they still have too much to live for.
“If, at age 80, the death angel comes to take me away/ Please tell him, I am still too useful to go right now.”
It has become a top karaoke choice across South Korea and has also spawned numerous parodies, with the “death angel” relaced by an overbearing boss or mother.