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Korea’s ‘Ballooning’ Escalation Stops, For Now

© South Korea Presidential Office via APThis photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, shows trash from a balloon presumably sent by North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (South Korea Presidential Office via AP)
This photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, shows trash from a balloon presumably sent by North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (South Korea Presidential Office via AP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.06.2024
Over the past week, North Korea has been dropping hundreds of bags filled with garbage over South Korea using balloons in response to South Korean activists dropping anti-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leaflets over North Korea using the same method.
On Sunday, South Korea warned it would offer an “unbearable” response as North Korea said it would temporarily halt the trash balloons.
The balloon-based warfare began last month when South Korean activists launched balloons carrying anti-DPRK leaflets across the demilitarized zone despite warnings from the North that it would consider such an action a “de facto act of war,” and claimed that the South Korean government was encouraging the activists.
“South Korean authorities are egging despicable confrontational villains on to flock to areas along the Military Demarcation Line and scatter leaflets slandering the DPRK.”
The statement described the group as “a group of hooligans more dead than alive, who belong to the ultra-right conservative organizations such as the ‘Alliance for the Movement of Free North.’”
The statement, written before the balloons were launched, also claimed that the balloons were set to include DVDs and USB sticks containing “The Interview,” a 2014 comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, during which the duo attempts to assassinate the leader of North Korea. It is not immediately clear if the balloons ended up including the movie or not.
FILE - In this photo provided by Jeonbuk Fire Headquarters, balloons with trash presumably sent by North Korea, hang on electric wires as South Korean army soldiers stand guard in Muju, South Korea, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.06.2024
What Western Media Isn’t Telling You About North Korea’s Trash Balloon Campaign
“This is the gravest politically-motivated provocation against the DPRK and a de facto declaration of war against it,” the statement warned.
In May, the group "Fighters for a Free North Korea" claimed that it sent 20 large balloons over to North Korea which included over 300,000 leaflets and 2,000 USB drives. Fighters for a Free North Korea is funded by the US Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), which was described by one of its co-founders as acting as a second CIA after the intelligence organization was restricted from performing coups in other countries.
"A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA," NED founder Allen Weinstein said in a 1991 interview with US media.
Starting on May 28, North Korea responded by sending trash balloons towards the south. “From May 28 to the dawn of June 2, we scattered 15 tons of wastepaper, favorite toy of the human scum, over the border areas of the Republic of Korea and its capital region with more than 3,500 balloons of various sorts,” vice-minister of national defense of the DPRK Kim Kang II said in a statement on Sunday.
According to South Korean authorities, roughly 960 trash balloons were found in various parts of South Korea. They also accused the North of engaging in GPS jamming during the event.
On Sunday, South Korean National Security Director Change Ho-jin described the North Korean trash balloons and alleged GPS jamming by North Korea as “absurd, irrational acts of provocation that a normal country can’t imagine” while promising an “unbearable” response without clarifying what that may entail.
In its statement, North Korea said it halted the balloons but promised they would resume if anti-DPRK leaflets campaigns continue.
“We are going to halt wastepaper scattering over the border temporarily as our action was a countermeasure from A to Z."
"But, if the ROK [Republic of Korea] clans resume anti-DPRK leaflet scattering, we will correspond to it by intensively scattering wastepaper and rubbish hundred times the amount of scattered leaflets and the number of cases, as we have already warned.”
In 2020, North Korea responded to a leaflet campaign by blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong. Later that year, the ROK banned the practice, arguing that it hurt reunification efforts, but that law was shot down by South Korea’s Constitutional Court in September.
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