North Korea sends another wave of garbage balloons to South Korea

Yonhap News Agency/Reuters

Balloons possibly sent from North Korea are seen off the coast of Incheon, South Korea on June 9, 2024.


flood
CNN

north korea South Korea once again sent hundreds of garbage-laden balloons towards its southern neighbour, igniting a tit-for-tat after South Korean activists sent floating packages in the other direction carrying… K-pop and K-dramas on USB devices.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said Sunday that about 330 balloons carrying garbage bags have been sent by North Korea since Saturday evening, and about 80 of them have landed in South Korea.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said waste paper and plastic were found in the packages and there were no safety hazards.

About 1,060 balloons from North Korea have arrived in South Korea since May 28, according to a CNN tally.

South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the response to the latest wave of balloons.

Last week, Pyongyang claimed to have sent a total of 3,500 balloons carrying 15 tons of waste to its neighbour, KCNA reported, citing North Korean Deputy Defense Minister Kim Kang Il.

The South Korean military responded Sunday afternoon local time by operating a loudspeaker broadcasting to North Korea, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The South Korean military had once defended propaganda broadcasts as part of psychological warfare against the North, until withdrawing the equipment after a 2018 summit between the two neighbors.

The broadcasts inform North Korean soldiers and residents about “the reality of North Korea,” South Korea’s development, and Korean culture, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that they are “capable of immediately performing their mission within a few hours if necessary.”

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea “bears full responsibility” for the current situation and urged the North to “immediately stop such despicable acts as sending waste balloons.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that whether the military played another loudspeaker broadcast again was “entirely due to North Korea’s actions.”

The countries have been cut off from each other ever since The Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953. They are still technically at war, and the balloon dispute has been going on for decades.

Groups such as the Fighters for a Free North Korea have long sent balloons carrying items banned in the isolated totalitarian dictatorship — including food, medicine, radios, propaganda leaflets and bits of South Korean news.

South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff/AP

Trash from a balloon supposedly sent by North Korea is scattered on the ground in Seoul, South Korea on June 9, 2024.

In May, North Korea responded by sending giant balloons south — containing trash, soil, bits of paper, plastic, and what South Korean authorities described as “filth.”

Kim said the balloons were a “tough response” to South Korea’s years-long practice of sending balloons containing anti-North Korean leaflets in the other direction.

The minister said last week that North Korea would “temporarily stop dumping waste across the border,” but on Thursday South Korean activists sent balloons to their northern neighbor carrying hundreds of thousands of leaflets denouncing leader Kim Jong Un and 5,000 USB sticks containing K-pop music. And Korean drama.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday night that North Korea is “promoting presumed garbage balloons” and warned that wind direction could cause the balloons to move south. She advised people to beware of falling objects, not to touch falling balloons, and to report any military base they find to the nearest military base or the police.

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