South Korea to charge defectors over North leaflets

Updated: Jun 11, 2020, 07:58 IST | Agencies | Seoul

For years, activists have floated huge balloons into North Korea carrying leaflets criticizing leader Kim Jong Un over his nuclear ambitions and dismal human rights record

North Korean students take part in a rally denouncing 'defectors from the North' in Pyongyang. Pic/AFP
North Korean students take part in a rally denouncing 'defectors from the North' in Pyongyang. Pic/AFP

South Korea's government said Wednesday that it will press charges against two activist groups that have been floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets and bottles filled with rice to North Korea for allegedly breaking the law by sending unauthorized materials to the rival nation.

The announcement by Seoul's Unification Ministry came a day after North Korea announced it was cutting off all communication channels with South Korea over its inability to prevent North Korean defectors and other activists from flying the leaflets across the border. Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesman, told reporters the two groups to be charged had "created tensions between the South and North and brought danger to the lives and safety of (South Korean) residents in border areas."
Seoul's pursuit of legal action against the groups is likely to trigger a debate over freedom of expression and whether President Moon Jae-in's liberal government is sacrificing democratic principles to keep alive his ambitions for inter-Korean engagement.

For years, activists have floated huge balloons into North Korea carrying leaflets criticizing leader Kim Jong Un over his nuclear ambitions and dismal human rights record. The leafleting has sometimes triggered a furious response from North Korea, which bristles at any attempt to undermine its leadership. North Korea has suspended virtually all cooperation with South Korea in recent months amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations with the US.

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