Defectors’ plan to send balloons is prohibited

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Defectors’ plan to send balloons is prohibited

The police Saturday blocked an anti-Pyongyang defector group from entering Imjingak, a border village some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Seoul near the Demilitarized Zone, and launching balloons containing leaflets critical of the North Korean regime across the inter-Korea border.

The Gyeonggi Police Agency mobilized over 500 policemen to block members of the Fighters for Free North Korea from going into the village, from which it planned to let loose balloons carrying nearly 200,000 leaflets denouncing the Pyongyang regime and 1,000 U.S. dollar bills at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Suzanne Scholte, chairwoman of the international human rights group North Korea Freedom Coalition, was also in the group.

The police cited safety concerns by local residents as the reason for stopping the launch.

The Ministry of Unification also urged the group to refrain from launching the balloons at a period of volatile relations between the two Koreas.

The government was concerned the launch would complicate the imbroglio over the suspended Kaesong Industrial Complex.

In a statement released April 26 by the North Korea’s Defense Commission, its top decision-making body chaired by leader Kim Jong-un, the North criticized the Fighters for Free North Korea for sending across the border anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets and rejected Seoul’s proposal for working-level talks to resolve the Kaesong dispute.

In a statement, Pyongyang said the fact authorities allowed the group to launch the balloons showed that Seoul’s proposal for talks was insincere.

By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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