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Opposition moves bill limiting anti-Pyongyang leaflet campaign

2014/11/12 15:45

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition party on Wednesday proposed a bill requiring government approval to send propaganda leaflets to North Korea as part of efforts to help ease simmering inter-Korean tensions.

The move by the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) comes as South Korean activists' sending of balloons with anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border has been a source of inter-Korean rows and tensions.

Pyongyang has urged Seoul to block such activities, while Seoul insists it has no legal ground to regulate their "freedom of speech."

   According to the revision bill to the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act proposed by Rep. Yoon Hu-duk of the NPAD, currencies, leaflets and any printed materials shall be added to the category of goods that need to be approved by the unification ministry before they can be sent across the inter-Korean border.

It also stipulates that the minister must give the go-ahead "to unspecified individuals with mobile equipment, including balloons," before they can be launched.

The revision bill would also ban the unification minister from giving the green light to sending items into North Korea that "could cause legitimate concerns of hurting inter-Korean exchange and cooperation."

"The leaflet campaign has hampered the recent thawing inter-Korean mood and posed threats to the safety of the people residing near the border regions," Rep. Yoon said.

Criticizing the Seoul government for "sitting idle and doing nothing to regulate the activities," the lawmaker said the revision bill would give the government a legal ground for regulating such activities to help protect residents and improve inter-Korean ties.

The balloons, mostly sent by conservative activists and North Korean defectors, carry propaganda leaflets, sweets, DVDs of Korean dramas and U.S. dollar bills. The activists hope to let the North Koreans learn the truth of their circumstances and encourage them to stage a revolt against the regime.

The communist country has said it will not hold any talks with the South if Seoul fails to blocks activists from sending the anti-Pyongyang leaflets. Early last month, the two Koreas had agreed to open dialogue in early November.

Civic activists launch ballons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets in the border town of Paju on Oct. 10, 2014. (Yonhap file photo) Civic activists launch ballons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets in the border town of Paju on Oct. 10, 2014. (Yonhap file photo)