South Korea to resume propaganda broadcasts after North sends hundreds more rubbish balloons

Estimated read time 3 min read

South Korea says it will restart loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts into the North, after Pyongyang sent hundreds more rubbish-filled balloons across the border.

“We will install loudspeakers against North Korea today and carry out the broadcast,” the president’s office said in a statement on Sunday.

North Korea sent more than 300 rubbish-filled balloons across the border on Saturday, Seoul’s military said, with the president’s office saying this had forced it to take “corresponding measures”.

It said that “the responsibility for the escalation of tension between the two Koreas will be entirely up to the North”.

“Although the measures we are taking may be difficult for the North Korean regime to endure, they will deliver messages of light and hope to the North Korean military and citizens,” the president’s office added.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said it detected the North launching about 330 balloons toward the South since Saturday night and about 80 were found in South Korean territory as of Sunday morning.

This photo released by South Korea Defense Ministry, shows a balloon presumably sent by North Korea, on the Han River in Seoul on Sunday, 9 JuneView image in fullscreen

In recent weeks, activists in the South have floated dozens of balloons bearing K-pop, dollar bills and anti-Kim Jong-un propaganda northwards, infuriating Pyongyang which has retaliated in kind.

Pyongyang sent nearly a thousand balloons carrying cigarette butts and toilet paper across the border late May and early June, before calling off its campaign.

It restarted Saturday in response to the new launches last week by the activists.

The Seoul city government, as well as officials in surrounding Gyeonggi province, sent out a text alert to residents on Saturday, warning about the new balloons.

“North Korea is making another low-class provocation with trash balloons against our civilian areas,” wrote Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon in a Facebook post.

Seoul’s military said an “analysis shows there were no substances that were harmful to safety,” with the latest batch of balloons containing waste paper and plastic – but it warned the public to stay away and report any balloons to authorities.

The resumption of South Korea’s loudspeaker broadcasts has been widely anticipated since last week, when South Korea suspended a 2018 tension-easing agreement with North Korea.

The move allowed for the South to resume propaganda campaigns and possibly restart live-fire military exercises in border areas.

South Korean soldiers dismantle loudspeakers in 2018 set up for propaganda broadcasts near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South KoreaView image in fullscreen

South Korea’s broadcasts are blasted from multiple speakers stacked in large racks and include world news and information about democratic and capitalist society with a mix of popular K-pop music. The sound is believed to travel more than 20km (12.4 miles) into North Korea.

Ties between the two Koreas are at one of their lowest points in years, with diplomacy long stalled and Kim ramping up his weapons testing and development, while the South draws closer to major security ally Washington.

With Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Reuters.


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