The South Korean military says 350 waste balloons from North Korea were discovered overnight as tensions rise

Yonhap News Agency/Reuters/Archive

A balloon believed to have been sent by North Korea, carrying various objects including what appears to be garbage and excrement, appears over a rice field in Cheorwon, South Korea, May 29, 2024.


South Korea discovered another 350 people North Korean Balloons were “supposedly” carrying waste on Monday, reigniting a tit-for-tat exchange as tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said a suspected balloon was seen flying in North Gyeonggi Province, which borders Seoul, around 9pm local time (8pm ET).

She added that about 100 balloons landed in areas in South Korea, most of which were found in northern Gyeonggi Province and the capital, Seoul, and no “dangerous materials” have been found so far.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government later sent out an immediate notice alerting the city that a North Korean balloon had entered the skies of Seoul, adding that citizens should refrain from touching the downed balloons and report any sightings to authorities.

The South Korean military warned that it may resume propaganda broadcasts over loudspeakers at the border – which it had temporarily halted over the past few years – adding that whether Seoul resumes the loudspeakers “is up to North Korea’s actions.”

“Our military is prepared to begin anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts immediately, and will operate flexibly in accordance with the strategic and operational situation,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday.

North Korea sent More than 1000 balloons towards the South since last May, which it describes as an act of retaliation due to South Korean activists distributing leaflets containing materials criticizing the regime of its leader, Kim Jong Un.

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On Thursday, a South Korean advocacy group launched 20 large balloons carrying thousands of anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets and USB sticks with South Korean entertainment towards North Korea. And one day later, on Friday, Kim Yoo JungThe powerful sister of North Korea’s leader warned of “trouble” ahead.

“When you do something you were clearly warned not to do, it’s natural to find yourself dealing with something you didn’t have to do,” she said.

The ministry said that a South Korean analysis of North Korean balloons sent between late May and early June revealed parasites in the soil of the balloons, which “possibly originated from human feces,” referring to “human genes” found in the soil.

The analysis found roundworms, whipworms and larvae as well as other waste, such as cloth and waste paper, the ministry said, adding that there was no risk of contamination or infectious diseases from the soil analyzed.

The balloons also carried damaged clothing from a South Korean brand, indicating “hostility toward South Korean goods,” as well as imitation clothing of Disney characters, according to the ministry.

Kristina Kormilitsyna/Sputnik/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands after a signing ceremony for the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

The latest balloon launch comes as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula, and diplomacy between the two Koreas remains at an impasse. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a defense agreement with North Korea last week, as talks on denuclearization efforts faltered, and Kim pledged to do so. Pledge to expand His country’s nuclear arsenal and threatened to use it against the South.

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Meanwhile, a US Navy aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea over the weekend ahead of trilateral exercises with South Korea and Japan in waters near the peninsula. This is the latest in a series of US military moves aimed at confirming Washington’s “firm” commitment to its ally in South Korea.

US and South Korean officials signed a new memorandum of understanding on the exchange and analysis of diplomatic information on Monday, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.

Japanese, South Korean and US officials also held a three-way call where they issued a statement Joint statement She described deepening security cooperation between Russia and North Korea as a matter of “grave concern” to those seeking to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.

“The United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan condemn in the strongest possible terms the deepening of military cooperation between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Russia, including continued arms transfers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Russia that prolong the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and violate numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions. “It threatens stability in both Northeast Asia and Europe,” the statement said.

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