Seoul condemned the new round of 350 garbage balloons launched by North Korea

Seoul condemned the new round of 350 garbage balloons launched by North Korea
Seoul condemned the new round of 350 garbage balloons launched by North Korea

One of the balloons sent by North Korea. (Photo by Handout / South Korean Defense Ministry / AFP)

South Korea threatened Tuesday to resume broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda along the border, in a new episode of Cold War-style tensions after North Korea launched another round of garbage balloons.

Kim Jong-un’s regime launched Monday night huge balloons carrying plastic bags of garbage to the other side of the border, for the fifth time since the end of Mayin an apparent response to leaflets launched with balloons by South Korean activists.

The president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, called the North Korean activity a “despicable and irrational provocation.”

In a speech commemorating the 74th anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 Korean War, Yoon said Tuesday that South Korea will maintain a firm military readiness to respond overwhelmingly to any North Korean provocation.

South Korean activists with balloons with anti-North Korean propaganda in Paju, near the border with North Korea, on June 20, 2024. Photo provided by the group Fighters for a Free North Korea (Fighters for a Free North Korea via AP)

The South Korean military said Pyongyang had sent some 350 balloons in their new campaign, of which about 100 ended up falling on South Korean soil, the majority in Seoul and surrounding areas. Seoul is 40 to 50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from the border. The military said the trash was mostly paper and that no dangerous objects had been found.

Since late May, Pyongyang has launched balloons with dung, cigarette butts, pieces of clothing, spent batteries and discarded paper against several areas of South Korea. No damage has been reported. In response, South Korea deployed huge loudspeakers on June 9 along the border for the first time in six years and briefly resumed anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts.

South Korean General Staff spokesman Lee Sung Joon told reporters Tuesday that the South Korean military was ready to resume border emissions. A joint statement from the General Staff indicated that strategic operational details would be reviewed and that the resumption would depend on how North Korea acts.

The launches come just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un signed an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the two countries promise to defend themselves in the event of aggression, which analysts say could embolden Kim to take more provocative actions against the South.

This image provided by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and released by the South Korean Ministry of Defense shows debris from a balloon supposedly sent by North Korea next to a police precinct, in Seoul, South Korea, on Sunday, June 9. 2024. (South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff via AP)

Balloon launches and loudspeaker broadcasts were campaigns of psychological warfare in which the two countries specialized during the Cold War. The rivals had agreed to halt such activities in recent years, but sometimes resume them when tensions spike.

North Korea is very sensitive to South Korean border broadcasts and pamphlets sent by civilians, as most of its 26 million people are banned from accessing foreign news.

(with information from AP)

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