Tension is rising between activists determined to change in North Korea and the liberal South Korean government eager to preserve the fragile peace on the deeply divided peninsula.
The South Korean government is warning defectors and activists to “immediately” stop dropping leaflets critical of the Kim regime into North Korea, asserting that it is an “outright violation” of the spirit of last week’s inter-Korean summit. Following a landmark meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27, the two sides agreed to cease “all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets.”
The loudspeakers were dismantled on Tuesday, but the leaflet address has yet to be resolved. Another leaflet drop is expected imminently, and authorities in South Korea are not happy.
“The distribution of leaflets toward North Korea directly violates the spirit of agreement of the Panmunjom Declaration agreed by the South and North Korean leaders for the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula,” the Ministry of Unification said Friday. “It is desirable that [the distribution] should be immediately stopped in accordance with the Panmunjom Declaration for the peace on the Korean peninsula and the alleviation of the military tensions.”
North Korean defector and activist Park Sang-hak, head of Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK), told NK News Tuesday that it planned to ignore government requests to cease and desist, vowing to fly balloons carrying leaflets into North Korea this Saturday at noon in Paju. The South Korean government said Friday that it will send police to crack down on these activities.
“In preparation for the distribution of the leaflets, we plan to request the Korean National Police Agency to actively clamp down on it,” a government spokesperson said, adding, “We will firmly cope with the spread of the leaflets toward North Korea in cooperation with relevant organizations including the police while strengthening our cooperation with private organizations.”
The spread of information critical of the Kim regime into North Korea has long angered Pyongyang, which is concerned the weakening of its tight grip on what information is available to its people will stir domestic instability. The North regularly sends pro-regime leaflets into South Korea.
Three years ago, North Korea threatened to open fire on balloons carrying leaflets.
Speaking at a United Nations symposium on North Korean human rights Thursday, North Korean defectors like Ji Seong-ho (the defector celebrated at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address), the families of Japanese abductees kidnapped by the North Korean regime, and the Warmbiers (who lost their son after he was detained in North Korea for over a year) begged the world to keep in mind all the people who have been oppressed by the North Korean regime, urging leaders to remember human rights as they look for answers to the nuclear issue.
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