North vows to ‘bleed’ leaflet activist

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North vows to ‘bleed’ leaflet activist

North Korea issued a death threat against a defector-turned-activist after he announced a plan to send copies of a satirical Hollywood film about a plot to kill Kim Jong-un into North Korea.

The South Korean government said Thursday it will take necessary measures to protect its citizens.

Last week, Park Sang-hak, who heads the Fighters for a Free North Korea, said he planned to send 100,000 DVDs and USB memory sticks containing the movie “The Interview” via balloons across the border into North Korea to destroy the personality cult build around Kim Jong-un.

He said the Sony Pictures’ movie will have Korean subtitles and he will start sending the balloons as early as late January.

According to the Ministry of Unification, the North aired an ultimatum against Park on Wednesday. Using extremely cruel language, the North’s Pyongyang Broadcasting Station said Park must “go to hell.”

It promised to “bleed him out and gut his intestines.”

“In order to end this tragic reality of national division forced upon our people and homeland by outside forces, we must ruthlessly eliminate those maniacs who encourage inter-Korean confrontations,” the broadcast said. “And the Korean people select Park as the first target.”

It also warned that Park will spend his last days in fear of assassination.

Following the menacing broadcast, the South Korean government said Thursday it will take necessary measures because the North’s threat posed a danger to the safety of South Koreans.

“We believe the North will definitely and strongly try to thwart his plan,” said an official of the Unification Ministry. “Therefore, we believe there is a high possibility that our people’s safety will be threatened.”

The official continued, “We believe Park, in the end, won’t be able to send the DVDs to the North,” hinting at the possibility that the government may block him and his group from sending the balloons.

The North has made it clear that the balloons, which normally carry anti-Kim Jong-un propaganda leaflets, are the main threat to an improvement in ties with the South, and has urged Seoul to stop Park Sang-hak.

While saying it can’t interfere with the activists’ democratic rights, the Park Geun-hye administration is ardently hoping for an improvement in relations and talks with the North.

Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers on the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee Thursday that the sending of anti-Pyongyang materials over the border to the North could endanger the safety of South Koreans living near the border.

Ryoo’s comments hinted that Seoul was redefining its position on the activists, as well as their balloons and propaganda leaflets.

The North issued its latest complaint Wednesday. The National Defense Commission, the highest decision-making body of the North, issued a statement late Wednesday night demanding that the South make clear its position on the leaflets, joint military exercises with the United States, and what it calls the South’s plan to absorb the North in the name of reunification.

“Does the South really have an intention to create a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations with dialogue, negotiations, exchanges and contacts, or does it want to continue clinging to confrontational activities such as the sending of leaflets?” the North asked.

The North specified that the message was coming from North Korean leader Kim, the first chairman of the commission.

Seoul, however, dismissed the North’s repeated preconditions for new government-to-government talks. “The South Korean government has proposed unconditional talks on many occasions - including offers on Dec. 29, 2014, Jan. 1 and Jan. 6 - and asked the North to respond,” the Ministry of Unification said in a statement.

The North must agree to talks on all issues, including the matter of reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as many members of the families are growing old, the ministry also said.

Pyongyang will likely decide its next move after President Park has a New Year’s news conference next week, a senior Unification Ministry official said. Park will address the nation on Monday to reveal her agenda for this year, and the North Korea issue is expected to be an important part of it. 

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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