Conflicts & War

South Korea police conduct raid over anti-North Korea balloons

Seoul, May 6 (EFE).- The South Korean police on Thursday raided the office of a prominent North Korean defector whose activist group claimed to have recently sent balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North, which is prohibited by a new law.

“We are currently searching relevant locations,” a Seoul Metropolitan Police official said in reference to the raid against Park Sang-hak, who leads the Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNN).

“We will conduct a swift and strict investigation,” the official added, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

On Apr. 30, FFNK announced on its website that it had sent 500,000 leaflets, 500 booklets and 5,000 $1 bills to North Korea using 10 balloons.

The balloons, filled with hydrogen or helium, are released near the border so that the wind blows them north, where they burst and scatter the material denouncing the actions of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s regime.

The dollar bills are in theory a tactic to get North Koreans to read the texts accompanying the bills.

If what the FFNK claims is confirmed, it will be the first time that such a group has carried out this activity since March when a law went into effect establishing that anyone sending such anti-regime leaflets or other items into North Korea without the permission of the government can be sentenced to up to three years in prison or fined up to 30 million won ($27,500).

The law, criticized by this and other groups, was approved at the initiative of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal government after Pyongyang blew up the inter-Korean liaison office in its territory last year in apparent protest at the balloons.

While critics say that the measure violates freedom of expression and that the government has yielded to the pressures of a dictatorial regime such as that of North Korea, Moon’s administration says that the law seeks to protect residents in border areas, as Pyongyang has previously responded with gunfire.

On Sunday, two days after the FFNN’s announcement, Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, called the action an “intolerable provocation” and warned Seoul that the regime “will look into corresponding action.” EFE


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