6 Hilarious Tactics North And South Korea Are Using To Fight
The Korean War differs from most historical wars in that it never actually ended. Oh, sure, the Koreas stopped exploding each other by the millions once Ike finally got fed up and brandished his considerable nukes at them, but the armistice that established the DMZ and "ended" the war was intended as a temporary measure until a peace treaty could be established.
Now, more than 60 years later, said peace treaty is still about as likely to happen as the final volume of George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire. That's a long damned time for North and South Korea to think up less deadly but far more insane ways to fuck with one another, such as ...
"Anything The Other Korea Can Do, We Can Do Bigger"
Smack dab in the heart of the Korean DMZ lies the Joint Security Area, a neutral zone where North and South Korean representatives can meet face-to-face with only minimal fear of being shot in said faces. It's meant to be a safe space where the two sides can speak on peaceful terms, as equals. And so, naturally, they use it to host preposterous dick-measuring contests.
For example: During the negotiations leading up to the armistice, which took place in a conference room literally divided by the border between the two countries, each day started with the participants lugging in larger flags: One day the North brought a large flag. The next day the South brought a huge flag. Then the North brought a giant flag, the South brought a ginormous flag, and so on and so forth until the soldiers hauling the things through the doorway looked as if they'd been tasked with returning the Jolly Green Giant's boxers to Walmart.
At that point they decided the whole thing was absurd. What really matters, after all, is who has the bigger pole.
Above: A literal pole-measuring contest.
So, in the decades following the armistice, each side began erecting ever-bigger flagpoles for their ever-bigger flags. When North Korea tipped the scale with a 525-foot, world-record-breaking flagpole to hoist their 600-pound flag in the 1980s, that's when South Korea finally conceded that, you know what, maybe North Korea just wants this one more.
But wait, it gets bigger! When Seoul won the bid for the 1988 Olympics, it was obviously an unspoken challenge for North Korea to one-up their asses. Of course, they couldn't get a better sporting event (it's not like there's an Olympic-er Olympics) ... but they could take Seoul's Olympic Stadium and do it bigger.
And also curvier.
The Rungrado 1st Of May Stadium, completed in 1989, again set a world record with its capacity for 150,000 spectators. It seems utterly pointless (What are 150,000 North Koreans going to gather to do? Have a starving contest?), but it has its uses -- such as the Arirang Mass Games, an annual, mind-bogglingly massive gymnastics festival.
"To spread the propaganda, you must be the propaganda."
Oh, and then there's the time they used the stadium to publicly burn traitors alive. You know, in case you forgot somewhere in the midst of that flag-waving story that North Korea is fucking horrible.
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The Battle Of The Balloons
During the Korean War, U.N. forces dropped more than 2.5 billion propaganda leaflets on North Korea, because the Korean War was really a war against trees. All environmental concerns aside, it's a tactic that the Korean people really took to heart, because they seemingly never miss an opportunity to bombard the other side with all manner of antagonistic crap.
Choco Pies, for example:
Guys, you're taking "moon pies" way too literally.
To explain why a storm of chocolaty treats would get all up in Kim Jong Un's craw, we need to rewind a bit. See, Choco Pies were once handed out as bonuses to North Korean workers manning South Korean factories. The treats became so popular with the impoverished Northerners that they transformed into an ersatz currency, to the tune of more than 2.5 million of the valuable confections being traded each month. This, of course, did not sit well with the regime, and they quickly quashed the market by producing their own, shittier Choco Pies and banning the authentic ones.
South Korean protesters responded in the only rational way: They loaded up gigantic helium balloons with 10,000 Choco Pies and floated them across the border. Kim Jong Un predictably threw a fit, threatening to shell the launch sites before going full-on Cookie Monster on every last Choco Pie, probably.
Now, what does chocolate inevitably lead to? Sex! And, at least according to North Korean strategic documents, that's another thing South Korea has been dropping all over them.
Of course, after a decades-long strained relationship, dropping the sex
really shouldn't have come as a surprise.
The finest victory in the Great Porno Bombardment Campaign came when someone in South Korea "discovered" a porn video purportedly starring Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol Ju.
Above: Ri Sol Ju
Above: Also Ri Sol Ju (allegedly)
South Korean conservative groups wasted no time printing up scads of stills from the video, loading them onto balloons, and altruistically blowing them northward with the enthusiasm of a bunch of kindergartners with bubble wands. Because, in the true spirit of communism, shouldn't the people share in every pleasure the supreme leader enjoys in private?
The North responded to this relentless rain of smut with literal smut. They launched southbound balloons of their own, loaded with cigarette butts, used toilet paper, and -- just to bring this whole story full circle -- hundreds of thousands of leaflets dubbing South Korea the "Republic Of Garbage."
"They say, 'Here's some garbage for your stupid garbage country.' Also, 'Your mom.'"
South Korean officials freaked right out -- their adversary couldn't possibly be so childish as to actually drop garbage on them! -- and assumed it was some sort of biochemical attack. Testing of the trash, however, revealed that it was zero percent chemical death and 100 percent undiluted assholery.
North Korea Just Yoinks People Across The Border
Luring others to your side -- whether it be swaying public opinion or actually luring defectors to duck under the barbed wire -- plays some role in any conflict. In South Korea, this comes in the form of straight-up paying North Korean citizens to become South Korean: Defectors can get up to $15,000 in their first year just for coming over, not to mention free training in job skills and basic life skills (such as how to open a bank account in which to deposit all that scratch).
"And this is a switch. It lets you see at night!"
North Korea, being unable to entice new citizenry via things like money or adequate quality of life or authentic Choco Pies, takes a rather more direct approach: They latch on to any poor bastard dumb enough to wander too close to the border and just yank him on across.
This was a huge problem in the '70s, when South Korean soldiers working the DMZ lovingly dubbed the bridge connecting the two countries the Bridge Of No Return, thanks to the fact that their North Korean counterparts made a habit of grabbing them and dragging them across it. It was so common that a protocol to counteract grabby attacks is still followed to this day: When a South Korean guard at the Joint Security Area opens the door to the North, a "safety buddy" behind him wraps one hand around his wrist and clings to the wall with the other -- because there's a very real risk that a North Korean soldier will yank them through the door just like Freddy Krueger at the end of A Nightmare On Elm Street.
The nightmare is real, yo.
And it's not just soldiers who are in danger -- they just happen to be the ones most often conveniently close to the border. In 2009, two American reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, wandered too close to the China-North Korea border, where North Korean soldiers popped up and grabbed them in what by all signs appeared to be a pre-set trap. Once detained, they were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. Luckily for them, that's when the U.S. dispatched a WMD of our own: Former President Bill Clinton personally traveled to Pyongyang to smooth talk them straight out of there.
So should you ever find yourself near the North Korean border, remember: not too close. Not everyone has an ex-president at their beck and call.
North Korea Sent Girls To Have Their Enemies' Babies
When Jang Jin-sung, author of Dear Leader: My Escape From North Korea, met Ri Hyun-suk, a young female student of mixed Japanese-North Korean parentage (that part will become important in just a moment) while attending university in Pyongyang, he stumbled upon possibly the most disturbing plot ever devised by North Korea or, for that matter, anyone else. It turned out Ri Hyun-suk was the product of North Korea's honey-trap scheme -- a plot to send attractive female spies to seduce and be impregnated by important foreign visitors. If it sounds like Jang has been watching too much James Bond, keep in mind that one such honey-trap spy was caught and arrested in South Korea as recently as 2008.
You know her seduction training is strong if she can hook guys with that haircut and mom jeans.
Anyway, once the honey trapped a bouncing baby whatever, the intent was to use the foreign dignitaries' newfound fatherly status to blackmail him for the purposes of, say, "encouraging" foreign journalists to write positive press, businessmen to invest in joint ventures, or politicians to enact legislation beneficial to the regime. Ri Hyun-suk's father is one such Japanese politician.
But why would North Korea develop a program whose end result is to pop out even more mouths to feed, when they can't even feed the ones they've got? Well, that's where the plot exits Disturbing Lane to barrel right on down Nightmare Highway. The children, raised in isolation to be fiercely loyal to the regime but looking like some nationality other than North Korean, make up the perfect force of spies for North Korea to sprinkle into the world like an army of pre-Avengers Black Widows.
The ones that don't make the cut are sent to Hawkeye camps.
It gets worse. According to Jang, all this honey-trap insanity came about as a sort of "try, try again" after North Korea's original plan didn't work out. The original plan? Well, it was simple, really: North Korea outright kidnapped Japanese citizens with the intention of transforming them into North Korean spies via vigorous brainwashing. And, if/when that didn't work, the backup plan was to use the abducted couples to breed and produce Japanese-looking, North Korean sleeper agents.
My, how quickly we've gone from whimsical balloons full of snacks to breeding goddamn humans in goddamn captivity.
North Korea Created Their Own Time Zone
In 2015, roiling in the depths of famine and hardship, North Korea took a long, hard look at everything that was happening in the nation and asked themselves, "What has gone wrong? Why is this not the Socialist Utopia we were promised?" And then it dawned on them: It was their time zone. Obviously.
"If won't be behind the times if we turn the clocks back."
You see, up until August of that year, North Korea had shared a time zone with South Korea and Japan -- a policy that, according to North Korea, was an "unpardonable crime" thrust upon them by "the wicked Japanese imperialists." And so, taking a cue from their previous decision to chuck the Gregorian calendar used by the rest of the world in favor of one counting from the birth of their founding leader, Kim Il Sung (it's not 2016 in North Korea; it's 105), they unilaterally decided to establish the new Pyongyang time, putting them 30 minutes behind Japan and South Korea and surely not sending their inter-country commerce spinning into an even deeper hell.
It was the dumbest time change ever, other than daylight saving time.
Before you write this off as just more North Korean batshittedness, we should note that, from 1954 to 1961, South Korea followed this same half-hour delay before realizing that it was more of a pain in the ass than anything. In fact, there are regular proposals to once again move that country's clocks back to what is now Pyongyang time. This would presumably kick off another change in North Korea so that they wouldn't be the same as South, which would in turn kick off yet another change in South Korea, and so on until the two countries ripped the fabric of time itself to exist in their very own little time warp, separate from the rest of the world. Which, by this point in the article, we're not entirely certain would be a bad thing.
Mostly They Just Stand Silently At The Border, Giving Each Other The Stink Eye
As much as the two countries might resent one another, in the end there's not a whole goddamn lot the Koreas can do about it. If the North were to fire a missile, they would meet retaliation from the world. If the South were to invade, they would face the nuclear arsenal of a roly-poly madman. As such, hostilities between the two mainly amount to giving each other the perpetual stink eye.
"I need these cartoonishly large binoculars to see your South Korean dick!"
To reach the true pinnacle of the outlandishness of this war that's not a war, we must travel once again to the Joint Security Area, where guards from both sides incessantly stand, staring. Always standing, always staring. The South Korean guards stare at the North Korean guards. The North Korean guards stare at the South Korean guards ... and also at each other, and also at the Northern gates, just in case anyone should get the bright idea to try to escape to the comparative paradise lying so close to their south.
Lieutenant Chris Croninger of the U.N. Command force described this ever-present scene as "a schoolyard with two bullies poking each other in the eye." Each army sends their most intimidating men to the DMZ: South Korean soldiers assigned to border duty are required to be at least 5-foot-8 (two inches taller than the nation's average) and to have a black belt in karate, while American troops are expected to be able to dunk with minimal effort and to possess a sufficiently Punisher-like demeanor. North Korea, being North Korea, settles for officers who've eaten sometime in the past week or so.
There they constantly stand, toeing the border for year after year, each side eyeing the other and straight-up daring them to shoot, while the entire rest of the world prays that said dare never reaches double-dog levels.
North Korea only gets stranger from here. Check out 5 Insane Petty Crimes Committed By North Korea and 6 Reasons North Korea Is The Funniest Evil Dictatorship Ever.
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