This June 21, 2019 picture shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju waving to China's President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan upon the latter couple's departure at the airport in Pyongyang. Photo: AFP / KCNA VIA KNS

After tolerating for years the balloon-dropped and bottle-floated propaganda sent from the South Korean side of the border, why did North Korea suddenly go ballistic last month and blow up the North-South liaision office building on its side of the DMZ

An answer has come from the Russian ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora: Non-governmental balloon propagandists in South Korea, led by a defector from the North, on March 31 launched copies of a repurposed pornographic DVD whose photoshopped jacket pictured Kim Jong Un’s wife and appeared to suggest that she (a) has the hots for a former South Korean president (also pictured) and (b) is connected to Japan.

The “dirty, insulting” depictions of North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju inspired “serous outrage” in Pyongyang, the ambassador told the TASS news agency.

And so they would. As the ruling Workers’ Party’s newspaper Rodong Sinmun put it June 13, slandering the country’s “highest dignity” – the Kim family – is a worse challenge to the regime than large-scale joint military exercises.

Pyongyang in the past has protested the propaganda launches, but this time, in addition to blowing up the liaison office, threatened to unleash its military to take further “measures.” Kim Jong Un subsequently “suspended” the additional measures, the official media reported.

The Russian ambassador said the propaganda photoshopping had been done “in such a low-grade way” as to become “the last straw” for the North.

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported that the title of the pornographic DVDs sent across on May 31 had been altered to read, “The Love of Sol Ju.”

Yonhap said the DVDs’ jackets pictured Ri’s face and the face of the late Roh Moo-hyun, a former South Korean president whose policy of enthusiastic engagement with North Korea has been revived by current President Moon Jae-in, Roh’s protege.

Yonhap said the DVD was accompanied by text referring to Japanese women’s purported “dream of love” for “Korean male hotties.”

Being associated with Japan, which ruled the Korean peninsula as a colony until 1945, is anathema to hard-core nationalists both north and south of the Demilitarized Zone.

– With reporting by AFP

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