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Balloons carry anti-South Korea message across the DMZ

SEOUL — For the second time this year, North Korea has floated balloons south across the Demilitarized Zone carrying leaflets critical of South Korea.

On Saturday, officials found an estimated 16,000 fliers in the Paju and Gimpo areas which apparently had been delivered into South Korea via large balloons. The leaflets blasted the anti-North sentiment purportedly promoted by the South’s education system, and included photos of several South Korean dissidents who have died, allegedly under mysterious circumstances, over the years.

Representatives of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff declined comment when asked if the government takes issue with the North launching the propaganda-laden balloons.

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South Korean activists have routinely floated pro-democracy propaganda across the DMZ for years, prompting North Korea at times to threaten attacks against the activist groups as well as the border cities where the balloons were launched.

In July, South Korean troops found thousands of leaflets scattered between the border cities of Paju and Yangju that had been floated into the area by balloons. Officials said that was the first time in 12 years the North had engaged in such balloon propaganda.

The leaflets found in July told stories of North and South Koreans who allegedly had fled the South, including the story of a well-known North Korean defector who allegedly returned to her home country in the spring, a defense ministry spokesman said.

At the time of the first balloon launch, observers speculated it was part of a North Korean effort to influence the outcome of South Korea’s upcoming presidential election.

Rabiroff.jon@stripes.osd.mil

Chang.YooKyong@stripes.osd.mil

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