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Activists send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across border

2014/10/10 13:51

PAJU, South Korea, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean activists again sent anti-North Korean leaflets across the border on Friday, in a move feared to hurt burgeoning fence-mending between the Koreas.

Defying warnings from Pyongyang and Seoul's call for restraint, about 30 activists from Fighters for Free North Korea and another conservative civic organization launched 10 balloons carrying around 200,000 leaflets from the border village of Paju.

The anti-Pyongyang leaflets contained ideologically-charged messages about Hwang Jang-yop, a high-profile North Korean politician who defected to South Korea in 1997 and led campaigns here against the North Korean dictatorship.

The activists resumed the leaflet campaign on Friday to mark the 4th anniversary of Hwang's death on Oct. 10, 2010, following their last leaflet drop on Sept. 21.

Friday also marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's governing Workers' Party of Korea.

"We, defectors, run toward the frontline of freedom and democratic unification to end Kim Jong-un's three-generation power transition in order to fulfill Hwang's lifetime goal of liberating North Koreans and democratizing the country," read the leaflets, which were launched with one-dollar bills and other pamphlets.

"In the North, Hwang is known to have died tragically. This campaign is meant to let North Koreans know he is buried in the South Korean national cemetery." Park Sang-hak, the head of the activists group, said.

The activist group, mostly composed of North Korean defectors, routinely flies propaganda leaflets across the border into the North, prompting protests by Pyongyang.

The campaign was also launched in defiance of the Seoul government's repeated requests to refrain from provocative actions against the North.

Continuing its previous statements, Pyongyang warned through its official Korean Central News Agency a day earlier that Seoul should stop the activists from sending the anti-North Korea leaflets or face an "uncontrollable catastrophe" in inter-Korean relations.

Right after the statement from the North, the unification ministry asked the civic groups to scrap their plan, citing inter-Korean tensions.

Despite its call, however, the government largely retained its long-standing hands-off position on the issue, saying it has no legal ground to stop them.

"The issue is something that the leaflet-scattering group should decide for themselves," a unification ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

As many as 370 police officers were sent to the leaflet launching site Friday morning, but no action was taken to block the activists.

The latest campaign came amid growing hopes for a thaw in icy inter-Korean relations.

North Korea's surprise dispatch of top officials to the closing ceremony of the Asian Games last week, including Hwang Pyong-so, vice chairman National Defense Commission, has spawned hopes that the countries may mend ties.

Activists launch balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North at the border village of Paju on Oct. 10, 2014. (Yonhap) Activists launch balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North at the border village of Paju on Oct. 10, 2014. (Yonhap)