Balloon activist says he may postpone campaign

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Balloon activist says he may postpone campaign


Anti-North Korea activists tentatively agreed to temporarily suspend their propaganda campaign yesterday amid pressure from Pyongyang on Seoul to stop balloons carrying leaflets critical of the Communist regime from being launched.

Nonetheless, the campaigners - mostly defectors from the North - made it clear that they are determined to resume their action if the North continues to show “disregard” for citizens in the South and President Park Geun-hye.

“To push the two Koreas toward dialogue, we could refrain from our campaign for some time,” said campaign organizer Park Sang-hak during a press briefing with other heads of anti-North civic groups at the Press Center in central Seoul.

The defector-turned-activist said, however, that he will launch balloons carrying leaflets criticizing the North and its basic human rights violations at an undisclosed later date and location, although he added that he will not notify the media.

“In the future, the defector groups will fly leaflets in consideration of the safety of [border town] residents and the direction of the wind as an event undisclosed to the press,” said anti-North Korea civic groups in a joint statement yesterday.

But Park said he will only continue his campaign without alerting the press if the North stops its provocations and insults against President Park Geun-hye.

“If the North provokes us militarily with nuclear or missile threats, we will once again fly the leaflets openly in public, even if means polarizing people on the issue in the South,” said Park.

In an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily Wednesday, the activist said he is willing to ground his balloons if Pyongyang apologizes for the sinking of the Cheonan warship, the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the killing of a South Korean tourist at Mount Kumgang resort.

The joint statement came after repeated calls by the North for Seoul to stop the campaign Park has waged since 2004. In response, the South’s government says it has no legal ground to stop the campaign because its Constitution grants freedom of expression.


BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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