North Korean garbage balloons dump “dirt” on South Korea

South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff

Balloons filled with North Korean trash and filth were seen in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea.


Seoul, South Korea
CNN

North Korea has adopted a new strategy to deal with its southern neighbour: sending floating garbage bags containing “filth” across the border, carried by huge balloons.

South Korea’s military began noticing the arrival of “large quantities of balloons” from the North starting Tuesday night, detecting more than 150 balloons as of Wednesday morning, according to the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Photos posted by JCS show plastic bags being carried by two giant balloons, and some broken packages with scraps of plastic, leaves and what appears to be dirt falling onto roads and sidewalks.

The balloons so far contain “filth and garbage” and are being analyzed by government agencies, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that the military is cooperating with the United Nations Command.

South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff

South Korean authorities said the balloons that landed in several locations were filled with “filth and garbage.”

She added, “North Korea’s actions clearly violate international law and seriously threaten the safety of our citizens.” He added: “All responsibility arising from North Korean balloons lies entirely with North Korea, and we strongly warn North Korea to immediately stop its inhumane and low-level actions.”

Local governments also sent letters to residents in northern Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces warning of “unknowns” and advising them against outdoor activities. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the packages risked damage to residential areas, airports and highways.

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Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – who is also a senior official in the reclusive regime – referred to the activities as “freedom of expression.”

In a statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Wednesday, Kim said North Korea distributed toilet paper and other waste materials in bags attached to balloons along the Korean border and central regions.

Kim compared North Korea’s actions to South Korea’s years-long practice of sending balloons containing anti-North Korean leaflets towards its country.

“We did some of the things they always do, but I don’t know why they would make such a big deal like they got caught in the fire,” Kim said.

The move, according to North Korea’s state media, the North’s Korean Central News Agency, was to retaliate against South Korean activists who often send materials to the North – including propaganda leaflets, food, medicine, radios and USB devices containing South Korean news and TV dramas. And all of them Banned in isolated totalitarian dictatorship.

Activists in the South, including North Korean defectors, have long been Posted this material Through balloons, drones and bottles floating down the cross-border river – even after South Korea’s parliament banned such actions in 2020.

“Dropping leaflets using balloons is a serious provocation that can be used for a specific military purpose,” Kim Kang Il, North Korea’s vice minister of national defense, KCNA reported on Sunday.

He accused South Korea of ​​using “psychological warfare” by scattering “various dirty objects” near the border areas, declaring that North Korea would take “reciprocal measures.”

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South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff

The deflated balloon that was carrying North Korean garbage bags. South Korean activists have previously used balloons to send materials across the border.

The Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying: “Piles of waste and filth will soon spread across the border and interior areas (of South Korea) and you will witness first-hand the amount of effort required to remove them.” “When our national sovereignty, security and interests are violated, we will take action immediately.”

Kim also criticized joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, which have increased in recent years as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula.

A 2020 law banning the sending of leaflets also restricted propaganda broadcasts over loudspeakers, which the South Korean military once championed as part of psychological warfare against the North until the equipment was withdrawn after a 2018 inter-Korean summit.

But even after Parliament passed the ban, activists He told Reuters They plan to continue — including defector Park Sang-hak, who has been sending materials home for 15 years and has vowed to continue efforts to give North Koreans a rare glimpse of the outside world.

Earlier this month, Park’s organization, Fighters for a Free North Korea, said in a statement that it had sent 20 balloons towards North Korea, containing 300,000 leaflets condemning Kim Jong-un, and 2,000 USB sticks containing music. Korean pop and music videos.

The organization said in a statement: “In order to appeal and urge the North Korean people to rise up and put an end to Kim Jong Un… the group is sending leaflets to its citizens in North Korea.”

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For decades, North Korea has been almost completely closed off from the rest of the world, with tight control over the information it lets in and out. Foreign materials including films and books are banned, with only a few exceptions with state approval; Dissidents say those caught in possession of smuggled foreign goods often face severe penalties.

Earlier this year, a South Korean research group released rare footage that it claimed showed North Korean teenagers He is sentenced to hard labor To watch and distribute Korean drama.

The restrictions have eased somewhat in recent decades as North Korea’s relationship with China has expanded. Initial steps to open up allowed some South Korean elements, including parts of its popular culture, To seep into the isolated country – especially in 2017 and 2018, when relations between the two countries improved.

But the situation in North Korea deteriorated in the following years and diplomatic talks collapsed Strict return rules In its place in the north.

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