South Korea said Wednesday it would take legal action against two defector groups for sending Anti-Kim leaflets across the border, after North Korea ramped up its threats over the campaigns.
South Korean government plans to stop people sending balloons with anti-North Korean messages across border https://t.co/0wCa4jz9nv
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North Korea has issued a series of vitriolic denunciations of the South since last week over activists sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
Anti-Kim leaflets: Pyongyang’s warning
The leaflets — usually attached to hot air balloons or floated in bottles — criticise North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over human rights abuses and his nuclear ambitions.
North Korean defectors and other activists have long flown balloons across the border carrying leaflets that criticise Kim over human rights abuses and his nuclear ambitions.
“The South Korean authorities will be forced to pay a dear price if they let this situation go on while making all sort of excuses,” Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean supremo Kim Jong Un, said in an earlier statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
Calling the defectors “human scum” and “rubbish-like mongrel dogs” who betrayed their homeland, she said it was “time to bring their owners to account” in a reference to the South Korean government.
Anti-Kim leaflets violated agreements: South Korea
The two groups of North Korean defectors had “violated an agreement between the leaders of the North and the South and created tension,” when they distributed the Anti-Kim leaflets Seoul’s unification ministry added in a statement.
It said it would file a legal complaint with the police against them for violating a law on inter-Korean cooperation, and also begin a process to retract their licenses.
The leaflet campaigns have long been a thorny issue between the two Koreas, but analysts said such legal action could spark an outcry over the possible infringement of the right to freedom of expression.
Officials in South Korea said last week they will consider a ban on leaflet launches just hours after a statement on the campaigns from Kim Yo Jong, the powerful younger sister and key adviser to the North Korean leader.
Calling the defectors “human scum” and “rubbish-like mongrel dogs” who betrayed their homeland, she said it was “time to bring their owners to account” — referring to the South Korean government.
Korean relations in danger in wake of recent events
In an alarming development which may threaten the safety of the Korean Peninsula, North Korea threatened Thursday to scrap a military agreement with the South and close down a cross-border liaison office unless Seoul stops activists from flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border. This decision will have ramifications for the entire region and the world in general as well, brining on fears for another session of heightened pan-Korean tension amid the possible withdrawal of North Korea from the Korea military deal.
The statement issued by the powerful younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, comes amid a deep freeze in inter-Korean ties, despite three summits between Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in 2018.
After threatening to scrap a military pact with Seoul and close a liaison office — where activities were already suspended — this week she ordered all communication links cut with South Korea.
“As the first thing, we will definitely withdraw the idling North-South joint liaison office,” a spokesman for the North’s United Front Department, which handles inter-Korean relations, said in a statement Friday carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
The closure of the office could be followed by “various measures” to punish Seoul, the spokesman added.
“We are about to start work that can hurt the South side soon to make it suffer,” he said.
The move further raised tensions, with inter-Korean ties at a standstill despite three summits between Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in 2018.
The two sides remain technically at war after Korean War hostilities ended with an armistice in 1953 that was never replaced with a peace treaty and North Korea continues to maintain a belligerent posture toward the South. Efforts for an eventual Korean reunification are ongoing.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk