Activist plans to drop film via balloons

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Activist plans to drop film via balloons

A South Korean activist said on Wednesday that he will launch balloons carrying DVDs of Sony’s “The Interview” toward North Korea to try to break down the personality cult built around dictator Kim Jong-un.

The comedy, which depicts an assassination attempt on Kim, is at the center of tension between North Korea and the United States, with Washington blaming Pyongyang for crippling hacking attacks on Sony Entertainment.

Pyongyang denies that and has vowed to retaliate.

Activist Park Sang-hak said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with the movie via balloons in North Korea as early as late January. Park, a North Korean defector, said he’s partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks with the movie, which will have Korean subtitles.

Park said foundation officials plan to visit South Korea around Jan. 20 to hand over the DVDs and USBs, and that he and the officials will then try to float the first batch of balloons if weather conditions allow.

“North Korea’s absolute leadership will crumble if the idolization of leader Kim breaks down,” Park said by telephone.

If carried out, the move is expected to enrage North Korea, which expressed anger over the film. In October, the country opened fire at giant balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets floated across the border by South Korean activists, triggering an exchange of gunfire with South Korean troops.

But it is not clear how effective the plan will be, as only a small number of ordinary North Korean citizens are believed to own computers or DVD players. Many North Koreans would probably not risk watching the movie as they know they would face dire consequences if caught.

Owning a computer requires permission from the government and costs as much as three months’ salary for the average worker, according to South Korean analysts.

Not everyone supports sending balloons into the North, with liberals and border town residents in South Korea urging the activists to stop. North Korea has long demanded that South Korea stop the activists, but Seoul refuses, citing freedom of speech.

Park said the ballooning will be done clandestinely, with the pace picking up in March when he expects wind directions will be more favorable.

Calls to the Human Rights Foundation on Wednesday were not immediately answered. The foundation says on its website that it works with North Korean defectors to use hydrogen-filled balloons to send material across the border.

AP




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