North Korea has expressed anger over its neighbor’s civilian leafleting campaign against Kim Jong Un's regime, repeatedly warning it will retaliate against such actions. Meanwhile, South Korea's government has made attempts to stop the practice.
Despite this, activist Park Sang-Hak, who fled North Korea to the South, said he’ll keep sending anti-Kim leaflets, calling the dictator "evil” and saying he rules with “barbarism.”
A balloon carrying a banner with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, the late leader Kim Il Sung, center, and Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of Kim Jong Un, released by Fighters For Free North Korea, is seen in Hongcheon, South Korea, on Tuesday. (Yang Ji-woong/Yonhap via AP)
Park said his organization floated 20 huge balloons carrying 500,000 leaflets, 2,000 $1 bills and small books on North Korea from the border town of Paju on Monday night. In a statement, he called this action “a struggle for justice for the sake of [the] liberation of” North Koreans.
“Though North Korean residents have become modern-day slaves with no basic rights, don’t they have the rights to know the truth?” he said.
South Korean civilian leafleting has intensified already high tensions between the two neighbors amid stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. Experts say Pyongyang is likely using the leafleting to apply more pressure on Seoul and Washington and force new talks.
Police officers ride a boat to collect a balloon carrying a banner with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the late leader Kim Il Sung and Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of Kim Jong Un, in Hongcheon, South Korea, on Tuesday. (Yang Ji-woong/Yonhap via AP)
Last week, North Korea destroyed an empty inter-Korean liaison office on its territory in anger over South Korean civilian leafleting against the Kim regime.
The animosity intensified Monday when the North pushed to resume its psychological warfare against the South, saying it was ready to float 12 million leaflets of its own across the border.
South Korea has since vowed to ban leafleting and said they would press charges against Park and other anti-Pyongyang activists for allegedly raising animosities and potentially endangering front-line border residents.
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Gyeonggi province official Kim Min-yeong said the province will demand the police investigate Park if his leafleting is confirmed. The penalty for violations is a year in prison or a maximum 10 million won ($8,200) fine.
Meanwhile, Park has accused South Korea’s liberal government of sympathizing with North Korea or caving to its threats. He previously said he would push to drop a million leaflets over the border around Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.