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South Korean group floats anti-North balloons over the border

Korean activists launch balloons containing anti-Kim Jong-Il propaganda leaflets (Institute for Policy Studies/Released)
June 08, 2024

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

South Korean activists flew large balloons carrying propaganda leaflets towards North Korea on Thursday, a few days after the North threatened to send more trash-filled balloons across the border in response to such campaigns.

The group, Fighters for a Free North Korea, led by North Korean defector Park Sang-hak, said it floated 10 balloons tied to 200,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets, USB sticks with K-pop songs and South Korean television dramas, and one-dollar U.S. bills, from a border town.

“We sent the truth and love, medicines, one-dollar bills and songs. But a barbaric Kim Jong Un sent us filth and garbage and he hasn’t made a word of apology over that,” Park said in a statement, referring to North Korea’s leader and balloons the North sent over the South last week. 

“Our group, the Fighters for Free North Korea, will keep sending our leaflets, which are the letters of truth and freedom for our beloved North Korean compatriots.”

The group’s new balloon flights followed a South Korean announcement that it will resume all border military activities for the first time in more than five years, ending a 2018 inter-Korean military pact in response to the North sending trash-bearing balloons to South Korea and its jamming of GPS signals.

The South’s suspension of the pact could mean a resumption of South Korean propaganda broadcasts, blasted through giant speakers on the border into North Korea.

North Korea sent waves of trash-filled balloons into the South from last Thursday to Sunday in what it said was a tit-for-tat campaign against South Korean activists who sent balloons carrying propaganda material denouncing the North’s regime.

Separately, the North staged GPS jamming attacks in waters near South Korea’s northwestern border islands for the fifth straight day on Sunday.

The Fighters for Free North Korea last month sent 300,000 leaflets and 2,000 USBs containing K-pop music videos to the North suspended from 20 big balloons.

The balloons from the south infuriate the North and have long been another source of tension between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

On Sunday, North Korea said it would temporarily suspend its cross-border balloon campaign, though it also threatened to resume it if anti-Pyongyang leaflets were sent from South Korea.