South Korean activists have flown tens of thousands of propaganda leaflets across the border into North Korea, amid heightened tensions on the divided peninsula, denouncing North’s latest nuclear test and defying threats of reprisal.
The anti-Pyongyang leaflets, tied to several helium balloons, were launched in a field in the border city of Paju, situated some 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the South Korean capital, Seoul, and in the vicinity of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea, on Thursday.
The propaganda exercise, criticizing North’s leader Kim Jong-un for pursuing nuclear ambitions instead of paying due attention to the well-being of his people, was organized by North Korean defector-turned-activist Park Sang-hak, and was supported by the South’s activists.
Earlier in the day, the North’s official KCNA news agency had published a commentary calling Park a “human scum without an equal in the world.”
Park said he was “doing this to inform the 20 million starving people in North Korea of the truth.”
“At this moment, when hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from terrible floods, Kim Jong-un conducted another nuclear test. So, who is calling who ‘human scum?’” he said.
Recent flash floods, triggered by torrential rains, have affected the North’s far north, killing 138 people. Some 400 others have also been reported missing.
Park also said that raging winds at the border region had restricted the Thursday event to send around 150,000 leaflets, which accounted for just half the planned number.
Conservative South Korean activists, including many North Korean defectors, have been dropping huge numbers of anti-Pyongyang leaflets via giant helium balloons on the North’s border regions for the past few years, a practice that angers the North, prompting it to threaten Soul with military strikes.
The two Koreas have been hostile to each other since the end of their 1950-1953 war, known as the Korean War. Since then, the peninsula has been locked in a cycle of military rhetoric.
Pyongyang has pledged to develop a nuclear arsenal in what it says is a bid to protect itself from the US military.
The UN and the West have so far imposed a raft of crippling sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile activities.
North Korea, however, says it will not give up on its nuclear “deterrence” unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led command in South Korea.