North Korea has sent hundreds of balloons into the South in recent weeks.

Seoul, South Korea:

North Korea has sent hundreds of more trash-filled balloons to South Korea, Seoul, after Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister warned of further retaliation if South Korea continued waging “psychological warfare”. The military said on Monday.

In recent weeks, North Korea has sent hundreds of balloons to the South, containing trash such as cigarette butts and toilet paper, in what it says is retaliation for balloons loaded with anti-Pyongyang propaganda, which the South has sent. Activists float north, which Seoul cannot legally block. .

South Korea’s government this month completely suspended a 2018 de-escalation military agreement and resumed loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border in response to Pyongyang’s balloon, angering the North. who warned that Seoul was creating “a new crisis”.

Kim’s sister and chief government spokeswoman Kim Yo-jong said in a statement early Monday that South Korea would “face the bitter shame of picking up waste paper without rest and making it a daily chore.” “.

In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, he called the activists’ leaflets “psychological warfare” and warned that the North would retaliate unless Seoul stopped them and stopped the loudspeaker broadcasts.

“If the ROK simultaneously carries out leafleting and loudspeaker provocations on the border, it will undoubtedly witness a new response from the DPRK,” he said, referring to the two countries by their official names.

Seoul’s military said the North had sent up more than 300 trash-can balloons overnight, but the weather did not work in Pyongyang’s favor.

“Although they released more than 310 balloons many of which flew toward North Korea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that about 50 have landed in the South so far, with more expected.

They said the latest batch of trash balloons contained waste paper and plastic, but nothing toxic.

“So far we haven’t seen any significant movement within the North Korean military,” a JCS official said, adding that they had “placed loudspeakers in the North’s front area to broadcast to the South.” Traces of planting have been detected.”

North Korea has used its loudspeakers along the border since the 1960s, usually broadcasting eulogies of the Kim family, but it suspended them in 2018 as relations warmed.

‘Beyond our imagination’

Kim’s sister’s statement shows that “North Korea is making noises to blame the current situation on South Korea and to justify its provocation,” said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. . told AFP.

Kim said tensions will likely continue and “North Korea will do something beyond our imagination.”

Pyongyang “could do something creative like throw flour (that) would cause total panic in the South which they would be happy with,” Kim added, noting the possibility of the North launching a biological attack on the South. Referred.

The tit-for-tat balloon blitz began in mid-May when activists in the South — including North Korean defectors — sent dozens of missiles carrying flash drives of anti-Kim propaganda and K-pop music toward the North.

In 2018, as inter-Korean relations improved, the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to “completely cease all hostile actions”, including stopping leaflets and broadcasts.

South Korea’s parliament passed a law in 2020 criminalizing the sending of leaflets to the North, but activists have not budged and the constitutional court struck down the law last year as an unnecessary limit on freedom of expression. was given

In 2018, Seoul also dismantled some of the loudspeakers, a tactic that dates back to the Korean War and angered Pyongyang, which had previously threatened artillery strikes against the loudspeaker units until That they should not be closed.

Professor Leif Eric Eisley of Seoul’s Ewha University said both sides were now facing a risky proposition.

“Seoul does not want military tension on the inter-Korean border, and Pyongyang does not want such outside information to threaten the legitimacy of the lesser government,” he said.

“North Korea may have already misjudged, because South Korean democracy can’t shut down the NGO bubble the way a sovereign would expect.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Source link