South Korea: Activists drop propaganda on North Korea despite threat of military strike


Park Sang-Hak (C), an activist and former defector from North Korea, scatters anti-Pyongyang leaflets as police block his planned rally near the tense border on a roadway in Paju, north of Seoul, on October 22, 2012.



Activists in South Korea have carried out their plan to launch anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea, even after authorities in both countries tried to stop them.

A group of campaigners, mostly North Korean defectors, today released balloons carrying tens of thousands of leaflets across the North-South border, the Associated Press reported.

South Korea had urged them not to, after North Korea's army threatened a "merciless military strike" if the leaflet drop went ahead.

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As GlobalPost reported earlier today, South Korean police set up a blockade around the original launch site in Imjingak, near the Demilitarized Zone.

According to the Washington Post, around 10 of the 80 activists managed to evade the officers by car and eventually released their leaflets from Ganghwa Island.

It is not clear yet what action, if any, the North will take in response. Its army had threatened to fire on Imjingak and the surrounding area, while the South Korean Defense Ministry vowed to respond to any attack.

More from GlobalPost: North Korea threatens South over propaganda leaflets

Earlier on Monday, the South's Unification Ministry asked both sides to show restraint, warning that the campaigners' actions could harm inter-Korea relations. Yet, according to the AP, the government said it could not intervene further without violating the right to freedom of speech.

Seoul's attempts at discouragement had been seen as unusual, since similar leaflet drops have been allowed to proceed before. The Washington Post attributed the government's stance to the upcoming presidential election and voters' growing demand for rapprochement with the North.

The activists, however, saw it as "surrender," organizer Park Sang Hak said. "We wanted to show our strong intentions," he told the Washington Post.

According to Agence France-Presse, anti-Pyongyang propaganda produced in the South typically contains messages criticising North Korea's ruling Kim dynasty and urging revolution, as well as bringing news of uprisings in other countries, for example the Arab Spring.

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