U.S. Forces Korea, a sub-unified command of the United States Pacific Command, has issued a warning to servicemembers on the Korean Peninsula to stay vigilant for “insider threats” after North Korean propaganda surfaced on American military bases.
According to Stripes.com, the 8th Army reported that a “significant number of North Korean propaganda leaflets and CDs” were found at Seoul’s Yongsan Garrison, on Thursday. This prompted military officials to release a Facebook alert, warning US soldiers to “maintain situational awareness,” since a number of foreign nationals have access to US military bases, which they could be viewed as “potential insider threats.”
“Given the number of foreign nationals with access to our military installations via employment, sponsorship and partnership programs, the potential for insider threats is always a reality,” the alert said. “It is essential for our personnel to report all [propaganda] and suspicious individuals to the appropriate authorities to help mitigate potential threats.”
According to Public Radio International, North Korean propaganda is nothing new in the South. Since 2015, more than 2 million North Korean propaganda leaflets have been found in Seoul, the capital and regional provinces near the DMZ. It’s suspected that North Korea’s military uses primitive balloons with timing devices to float the literature over the DMZ into the South. In March, a group of hikers found a trove of North Korean propaganda leaflets on the foothills of Seoul’s Gwanak Mountain; as shown below:
This leaflet depicts South Korean leader Park Geun-hy cowering atop the presidential Blue House.
A graphic decapitation of then-Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
A missile striking Defense Secretary James Mattis and government officials.
North Koreans severely dislike Defense Secretary James Mattis, as he flies above South Korean officials “Stirring Up Nuclear War.”
According to Public Radio International, both North and South Koreas have waged an infowar on one another since the 1950s. "Pictures have also been shared recently on South Korean social media showing recovered flyers. Some of those include depictions of President Donald Trump and refer to him as an “old beast lunatic” — an insult North Korea has in the past translated as “dotard.”
In the past, both Koreas dropped subversive material into each other’s territory with the intent of inciting insurrection or defection. The tactic has been used ever since the 1950-53 Korean War, when American forces sent millions of anti-Communist flyers into the North, according to the book “Bury The Enemy With Leaflets.”
While hardly surprising that the information war continues, it is concerning that North Korean propaganda ended up in a South Korean US military base even if it will have zero actual impact. What is more troubling is the question who put it there, and whether North Korea has spies, moles and potentially saboteurs, inside South Korea military forces.