SKorean activist floats leaflets north amid high tensions

SKorean activist floats leaflets north amid high tensions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A South Korean group launched hundreds of thousands of leaflets per balloon over the border with North Korea at night, an activist said Tuesday, after the north had repeatedly warned it would retaliate against such actions.

This move will certainly exacerbate the already high tensions between the Koreas. North Korea has recently abruptly lifted its fiery rhetoric against South Korean civilian leaflets, destroying and pressuring a Seoul-based liaison office on its territory to resume its psychological warfare against the South.

Local officials in South Korea were looking for the account and could ask police to investigate it as a potential security threat to frontline residents.

Activist Park Sang-hak said that on Monday evening, his organization floated 20 huge balloons with 500,000 leaflets, 2,000 one-dollar notes and small books about North Korea from the border town of Paju.

Park, formerly a North Korean who fled to South Korea, said in a statement that his pamphlet “is a fight for justice for the sake of liberating” North Koreans.

Calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “an evil” and his rule “barbarism,” Park said he will continue to send anti-Kim leaflets. “Although North Korean residents have become modern slaves without basic rights, don’t they have the right to know the truth?” he said.

South Korean officials have vowed to ban leaflets, saying they would bring charges against Park and others, who have sent leaflets to North Korea for years. Park accused South Korea’s liberal government of sympathizing with North Korea or yielding to its threats. Park’s brother, another activist who was also previously from North Korea, canceled plans last week to release bottles filled with dried rice and coronavirus masks from a front-line island.

South Korean authorities said Park’s activities are causing hostility and potentially endangering frontier frontier residents. In 2014, North Korean troops opened fire on propaganda balloons that flew into their territory, triggering a fire change that did not cause known causes.

Gyeonggi Province, which governs Paju, has issued an administrative order prohibiting anti-Pyongyang activists from entering certain border areas, including Paju, to fly leaflets to the north. If Park’s leaflet is confirmed, Gyeonggi official Kim Min-yeong said the province will demand that the police investigate him. The penalty for violations is a year’s imprisonment or a fine of up to 10 million won ($ 8,200).

North Korea does not tolerate outside criticism of its ruling family, which enjoys a strong cult of personality built by North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, whose surprise invasion of South Korea in June 1950 caused a devastating three-year war.

Park previously said he would insist on Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, to drop a million leaflets across the border. A large banner that Park said flew to North Korea with the leaflets on Monday shows the image of Kim Il Sung calling him “the slaughter of (the Korean) people” and urging the North Koreans stand against the Kim family’s reign, according to photos distributed by Park.

In recent weeks, North Korea has released gross insults at leaflet activists such as Park, describing them as “human trash” and “hybrid dogs.” It said it would also take a series of steps to annul the 2018 stress reduction agreements with South Korea. On Monday, North Korea’s state media said it had produced 12 million propaganda papers to be sent to South Korea in what they believed would be the largest anti-Seoul leaflet campaign ever.

Experts say North Korea is likely to use the South Korean civilian directory as an opportunity to strengthen internal unity and put more pressure on Seoul and Washington amid stalled nuclear diplomacy.

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