Conflicts & War

Activists send propaganda balloons into North Korea in defiance of a ban

Seoul, Apr 28 (EFE).- A group of activists Thursday said they have again sent leaflet-laden propaganda balloons into North Korea, in their first such campaign this year which Seoul has banned and made punishable up to three years in jail.

The Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK), a group of some North Korean defectors, said they flew about 20 balloons carrying a million leaflets across the western flank of the inter-Korean border.

Some leaflets carry reports and photographs of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s electoral victory in March polls to show the North Koreans the difference between the South’s democracy and the North’s dictatorship.

Such campaigns in the past have riled North Korea that sees it as an attempt to undermine leader Kim Jong Un’s hold over the hermit state.

South Korea has banned the campaign as per the law approved by parliament in December 2020, which entails fines of up to 30 million won (about $23,700) or a maximum of three years in prison.

Critics have condemned the law as an attack on freedom of speech.

FFNK leader Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector, is currently facing trial for sending propaganda balloons and dollar bills through the demilitarized zone twice in April last year.

The FFNK statement said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “threatened South Korea” in the speech he gave on Apr.25 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of his army.

The North Korean leader vowed to expand the country’s nuclear capabilities “at the fastest rate.”

He stressed that Pyongyang would make preparations to employ nuclear deterrence at any time and warned that any foreign forces seeking military confrontation would cease to exist.

“Our basic mission regarding nuclear power is to deter war but our nuclear weapons cannot be confined solely within the boundaries of preventing a war until a situation is created that we never hope to witness in this land,” Kim said.

The anniversary comes as North Korea, still cut off from the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year.

These include the first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in five years under a weapons modernization program approved last year.

Satellite images during recent weeks have also indicated that Pyongyang may be preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017.

In South Korea, which responded with its own launches, the conservative president-elect Yoon will take office next month.

He has pledged to adopt a less tolerant attitude towards the neighboring country. EFE


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