Activists to Stop Propaganda Leaflet Campaign Against North Korea
kpopluv, March 23, 2015, 7:53 a.m.
Anti-North Korea activists here on Monday announced a provisional halt to their controversial campaign to fly propaganda leaflets across the border amid military tensions on the peninsula. Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector leading a related group, said he will postpone their plan to send half-a-million leaflets to the North until after Thursday, the fifth anniversary of the North's deadly sinking of a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan.
His decision was conditional, however, as he said he is giving Pyongyang a chance to apologize for the attack which killed 46 sailors. Speaking to Yonhap News Agency by phone, he said his group, which calls itself the Fighters for a Free North Korea, and several other civic organizations will wait until the anniversary. If the North does not budge, they will discuss a new date for sending the leaflets, he added.
They initially planned to hold an event near the border sending gigantic balloons or drones, if possible, across carrying leaflets and thousands of DVDs of "The Interview," a Hollywood comedy film about a plot to assassinate the North's leader Kim Jong-un. The North formally warned over the weekend that its front-line troops would mobilize "every firepower strike means" to blow up the balloons or drones without prior warning.
In October last year, the North, extremely sensitive to such leaflet scattering, fired machine guns at balloons launched by activists. Some bullet rounds landed in the South's territory, but no one was hurt. The South Korean government has reiterated that they have no legal means to curb the leaflet campaigns. It has instead called for the relevant civic groups to make a "wise" decision in consideration of the safety of residents in border regions.
"It is a matter of freedom of speech, which is a basic right. It's an issue to be decided by civilians 'voluntarily,'" the ministry's spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing earlier Monday. He added the government will deal with the North's provocative acts against the scattering of leaflets "strongly and resolutely."
On the broader policy on the North, Lim said, the Park Geun-hye administration will stick to its current approach highlighted by the Korean Peninsula Trust-Building Process aimed at building mutual trust to pave the way for reunification. The government's underlying position is to resolve all inter-Korean issues through dialogue, he said. He urged Pyongyang to hold talks with Seoul to discuss not only the leaflet problem but also other pending issues.