South Korean activists ignore warnings to fly balloons in North

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean activist group said Thursday that it had sent balloons with leaflets critical of Kim Jong Un into North Korea, only days after Pyongyang launched thousands of balloons in the opposite direction carrying garbage.

Park Sang-hak is a defector from North Korea who fled in 2000. He said that his group, Fighters For Free North Korea had launched ten balloons with 200,000 flyers and 5,000 USB sticks with K-pop videos, dramas and 2,000 dollar notes.

Since decades, North Korean defectors in South Korea and activists have released balloons containing anti-Pyongyang materials and parcels of aid across the heavily fortified border.

Park’s campaign was launched after North Korea claimed to have sent 3,500 trash-filled balloons into the South. These balloons, which sometimes carried excrement as well, caused tensions in border towns, and Seoul suspended a 2018 interkorean military agreement and resumed military activities along the border.

Park provided images of a leaflet that featured a photo of Kim with his sister and a note saying: “The enemy of people Kim Jong Un has sent filth and garbage to the people of Republic of Korea but we defectors have sent truth and love to North Korean compatriots.”

Park and his colleagues were also seen carrying balloons at night.

The group issued a statement saying that Kim Jong Un had humiliated and insulted 50 million people. They also promised to keep sending leaflets to Kim until he apologized.

In his Memorial Day address on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol reaffirmed the pledge he made to build peace by strength. He said that this would transform the North and restore its people’s freedom and human right, as well as achieve unification.

After their 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice and not a peace agreement, the two Koreas remain technically at war. The North has for years called defectors “human scum”.

Pyongyang has stopped sending garbage balloons, but will resume it if anti North leaflets arrive again.

The South Korean government announced on Wednesday that it is monitoring the issue regarding the sending of leaflets across the border. However, the ruling protecting freedom of expression protects the practice.

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