Minister plans to drop radios on North Korea
August 23, 2003
SEOUL — If the wind is just right this weekend, Douglas Shin’s hopes for a unified Korea will go lofting over barbed wire and land mines and into North Korean airspace.
Helium-filled balloons — wired with razors and slow-burning mosquito coils functioning as crude releases — will drop $3 Chinese radios that will let finders tune in at least three radio stations, said Shin, coordinator of the drop.
His hope, he says, is for more attention to the plight of North Koreans, who have suffered years of human rights abuses and a devastating famine since the mid-1990s.
“The huge media interest will change the attention of the South Korean people and even the attention of the South Korean government, so they don’t turn a blind eye to this poor situation in the North,” said Shin, 48, an American minister who lives in Los Angeles.
“The plight of the ordinary people in the North is ignored.”
Shin has raised about $8,500 for his project, mostly from U.S. and South Korean donors. As long as the wind is going north Friday or Saturday, 25 balloons — all about 3.5 feet wide and 20 feet tall — will be released near Chorwon, an area about a half-mile south of the Demilitarized Zone. Each balloon will carry about 40 radios and parachutes to cushion their descent.
About 100 regular party-style balloons carrying a radio each also will be released, Shin said. The radios — contained in zippered plastic bags — have instructions, headphones and spare batteries.
The radios are AM-FM tunable and should pick up at least three stations, Shin said: the Christian station Far East Broadcasting company; Radio Free Asia, a private station funded by Congress; and the Korean Broadcasting System, a major South Korean radio and TV broadcaster.
Of course, anyone finding the radios could be in for trouble: Listening to foreign broadcasts is illegal in North Korea.