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International News


From The Asian Reporter, V34, #7 (July 1, 2024), pages 4 & 6.

Seoul says N. Korea has resumed trash balloon launches

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) ó North Korea last week resumed launches of balloons likely carrying trash toward South Korea, South Koreaís military said, in the latest round of a Cold War-style campaign on the Korean Peninsula.

The launches came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a major defense deal that observers worry could embolden Kim to direct more provocations at South Korea.

The statement asked South Korean citizens not to touch North Korean balloons and report them to military and police authorities. The military didnít say how it would respond to new balloon launches.

Separately, Seoulís city government sent text messages telling citizens to beware of any falling object as the balloons were flying above the capital, an hour drive from the border.

Starting in late May, North Korea launched more than 1,000 balloons that dropped manure, cigarette butts, scraps of cloth, waste batteries, and vinyl in various parts of South Korea. No highly dangerous materials were found.

North Korea said its balloon campaign was a tit-for-tat action against South Korean activists who used balloons to fly political leaflets critical of its leadership across the border.

North Korea views frontline South Korean broadcasts and civilian leafleting campaigns as a grave provocation because it bans access to foreign news for most of its 26 million people.

North Korea has reacted to past South Korean loudspeaker broadcasts and civilian balloon activities by firing rounds across the border, prompting South Korea to return fire, according to South Korea.

South Korean officials say they donít restrict activists from flying leaflets to North Korea. A constitutional court ruling last year struck down a contentious law criminalizing such leafleting, calling it a violation of free speech.

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