Government’s inaction on anti-NK leaflets draws criticism

Members of Gyeoreul Unification Solidarity, a North Korean defectors’ group, prepare to send balloons carrying propaganda leaflets critical of the North Korean regime across the border from Incheon's Ganghwa Island, Friday. Courtesy of Gyeoreul Unification Solidarity

A series of trash-laden balloons sent by North Korea has reignited debates surrounding the government’s stance on anti-Pyongyang leaflets launched by local activists, most of whom are defectors.

Over the last couple of weeks, North Korea has launched approximately 1,600 balloons carrying waste paper and plastic to the South on four occasions since May 28. This exchange followed South Korean activists’ release of large balloons carrying anti-regime leaflets to the North.

Observers criticized the government’s passive tolerance of the leaflet distribution activities, arguing that it has provided a justification for the North’s balloon offensive. They called for at least minimal administrative engagement to halt civic groups from sending more leaflets to the North to prevent tensions from escalating further.

“The ball is now in our court. North Korea’s next step will depend on whether the defector groups launch propaganda leaflets,” said Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies.

Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, warned on Sunday of additional retaliatory measures if Seoul continues loudspeaker broadcasts and leaflet launches.

“In other words, the North would refrain from further provocations if the South stops its loudspeaker broadcasts and leaflet launches,” Yang 카지노 said. He noted that the Kim regime is likely to act cautiously to prevent tensions from escalating further, with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Pyongyang on the horizon.

According to Russian newspaper Vedomosti, Putin will visit North Korea and Vietnam in the coming weeks, potentially meaning that the visit could be as early as this month.

The South Korean government is apparently treading cautiously as well. After resuming its loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts toward the North in retaliation for its balloon offensive, Sunday, the military refrained from operating the speakers on Monday. This move was perceived as a prudent stance aimed at preventing a further escalation in tensions.

“In such a situation, additional leaflet launches could heighten military tensions. Pyongyang may resume sending balloons filled with trash in retaliation, or worse, engage in more provocative actions. The government should exercise its power to limit the leaflet launches, at least for now,” Yang said.

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