Activists halt leaflet launch to stymie Pyongyang

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Activists halt leaflet launch to stymie Pyongyang

Two main South Korean activist groups said yesterday they will temporarily stop planned and announced launches of anti-North Korean leaflets across the border until the Dec. 19 presidential election, in an attempt to deter Pyongyang’s intervention in the election of the South’s next leader.

“Till the (Dec. 19) presidential election, we will not openly carry out scattering of anti-North leaflets,” Kim Seong-min, who leads the anti-North activist group Fighters for Free North Korea, told Yonhap News Agency.

Park said officials from the ruling Saenuri Party have requested his group, composed of North Korean defectors, to refrain from such activities because “they can provide a pretext for North Korea to intervene in the local presidential election.”

He accepted the request, Park said, adding that the December-February period is already the off-season for leaflet distribution to the North due to unfavorable wind conditions.

His group, however, will continue to carry out unannounced launches of the propaganda leaflets, attached to large balloons and floated over the border, Park said.

“(We) want to scatter leaflets to mark the second anniversary of the (North’s) shelling of Yeonpyeong Island but the wind is not favorable,” he noted. If wind conditions permitted, he said, the group would send leaflets before or after the Nov. 23 anniversary of the North’s shelling of the border island in the Yellow Sea, “without announcing it.”

Kim Seong-min, who leads an association of anti-North activist groups that includes Park’s organization, said his group will also suspend leaflet activities, probably until February of next year.

The suspensions come after a planned leaflet launch by Kim and fellow activists last month sparked military tension between the two Koreas.

Police blocked the activists’ access to Imjingak, a border village from where they had planned to launch the balloons, on Oct. 22 for security reasons.

The activist group had pre-announced their launch plan, after which North Korea issued a warning it would take military action if the launch was carried out.

Any escalation of tension with the North is widely feared to influence the results of the December election in South Korea.

Yonhap

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