Moon pulls plugs on leaflets after North squawks

Home > National > North Korea

print dictionary print

Moon pulls plugs on leaflets after North squawks

Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and first deputy director of the Workers' Party.  [YONHAP]

Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and first deputy director of the Workers' Party. [YONHAP]

The Moon Jae-in administration told activists to stop sending propaganda leaflets across the border following a complaint from Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong-un.  
 
“Activities that risk lives and properties of the residents of border areas must be stopped,” Yoh Sang-key, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry, said in a press briefing Thursday morning. “The government has been paying attention to some occasions in which distribution of anti-North propaganda leaflets raised tension in the border regions and took measures to halt the activities.”  
 
Yoh said the government is working on a bill to ban the leaflet distribution. “We are already considering a plan to effectively ease tensions in the border regions,” he said. “We are preparing to make legal updates to this end. A bill will likely be proposed by the government.”  
 
Unification Ministry spokesman, Yoh Sang-key, gives a press briefing on Thursday. [YONHAP]

Unification Ministry spokesman, Yoh Sang-key, gives a press briefing on Thursday. [YONHAP]

In 2018, the government sponsored a bill to introduce a ban on cross-border distribution of propaganda leaflets, but lawmakers called it an infringement of freedom of expression.  
 
The Unification Ministry’s response was announced just four hours after Kim Yo-jong, whose title is first deputy director of the Workers’ Party of the North, released a statement protesting the leaflets.  
 
On May 31, Fighters for a Free North Korea, a civic group run by North Korean defectors, dispatched 500,000 leaflets criticizing Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threats, 50 books, 2,000 $1 bills and 1,000 computer memory cards via balloons across the border. On April 30, the group also sent leaflets, announcing that two defectors, including former diplomat Thae Yong-ho, were elected lawmakers in South Korea's April 15 general elections.  
 
In this file photo, defectors' groups including Fighters for a Free North Korea send propaganda leaflets on April 2, 2016, in Paju, Gyeonggi, near the inter-Korean border. [YONHAP]

In this file photo, defectors' groups including Fighters for a Free North Korea send propaganda leaflets on April 2, 2016, in Paju, Gyeonggi, near the inter-Korean border. [YONHAP]

“Clearly speaking, the South Korean authorities will be forced to pay a dear price if they let this situation go on while making sort of excuses,” Kim Yo-jong’s English-language message, released through the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said.  
 
Stressing that Moon agreed with her brother in 2018 at their Panmunjeom summit to stop all hostile acts near the military demarcation line including the leaflet dispatches, Kim threatened to scrap a military agreement signed at the summit if activists continue sending leaflets.  
 
She also threatened to permanently scrap the suspended Mount Kumgang tour program, completely demolish the Kaesong Industrial Complex or shut down an inter-Korean liaison office if the South failed to accede to her demand.  
 
The Blue House on Thursday criticized the leaflet dispatches. “It is an activity that does more harm than good,” said a senior presidential official. “The government will sternly counter any action that threatens national security.”
 
He, however, was tight-lipped about Kim’s threat to wreck the inter-Korean military agreement. “The Unification Ministry has announced its stance, so the Blue House won’t comment on her statement,” he said.  
 
Sources informed about North Korea affairs said Thursday that Pyongyang’s complaint and Seoul’s quick response hint at a possible resumption of inter-Korean talks.  
 
“Did Kim, the closest confident of North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un, really want to complain about the petty matter of anti-North propaganda leaflets?” Rep. Kim Hong-gul of the ruling Democratic Party said in a Facebook message. “Due to the coronavirus outbreaks, the North is experiencing a crisis, but it cannot overtly propose to resume exchanges with the South because it needs to save face.
 
“Instead of looking at the North’s threats , you have to pay attention to the hidden message,” Kim, the youngest son of the late President Kim Dae-jung, said. “The latest statement is not a threat, but a signal that they want to resume talks, if we give them a promising response.”  
 
Another North Korea expert, former Rep. Park Jie-won, said Thursday that the North is sending a signal to the South to resume talks.
  
“It should be interpreted as a message that the North will respond if the South stops leaflet distribution and takes more actions such as resuming the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” Park said in a TBS radio interview.  
 
BY SER MYO-JA   [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

More in North Korea

North signals openness to working with new unification officials

Leader's sister again nixes any summit with Trump

Biegun says he's ready to talk to Pyongyang

In Seoul, Biegun says U.S. supports inter-Korean efforts

Kim Jong-un pays tribute to grandfather on death anniversary

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now