Launches by fighters for a free North Korea were the first since the law was passed in December
A group of defectors from North Korea has twice this week defied Seoul’s ban on flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that divides the peninsula, he said on Friday.
The launches of the fighters for a free North Korea were the first since the law was passed in December.
The group “stole 500,000 leaflets, 500 pounds and 5,000 dollars in banknotes divided among a total of 10 large balloons on two occasions near the demilitarized zone between April 25 and 29,” said its president Park Sang. -hak.
Activist groups have long sent flyers criticizing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over human rights violations and his nuclear ambitions across the DMZ, by ballooning them or floating them through the rivers.
The leaflets infuriated Pyongyang, which issued a string of vitriolic condemnations last year demanding Seoul act and upped the pressure by blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border.
South Korea’s parliament quickly passed a law criminalizing sending leaflets and USB drives – a preferred method of distributing information and entertainment.
Under this measure, those found guilty of sending leaflets face a maximum sentence of three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won ($ 27,000).
The law raised concerns about free speech, with the United States – a Southern treaty ally – describing it as an “important human rights issue” in an annual report in March.
North Koreans “had the right to know the truth even if their rights as human beings are taken away by the regime,” Park said, criticizing the southern “gag order” as “the worst law.”
The two Koreas regularly sent leaflets to the other side, but agreed to end such propaganda activities – including loudspeaker broadcasts along the border – in the Panmunjom declaration signed by Moon and Kim and at their first summit in 2018.
But civilian groups in the south, mostly led by defectors, continued their activities, raising fears of reprisals among residents living along the border.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry, responsible for inter-Korean relations, said the leaflet law “is intended for the safety and lives of people living in border areas.”
In response to the latest launches, he said, authorities “will take appropriate action in accordance with the spirit of the law once the facts are established.”