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Leaflet bombs: North Korea drops propaganda pamphlets on the South

South Korean soldiers were reported to have collected thousands of leaflets floated by the North across the frontier as relations worsen between the two countries still technically at war.

Birds fly across the demilitarised zone along the border between North and South Korea.
Birds fly across the demilitarised zone along the border between North and South Korea.
Image: Lee Jin-man/AP/Press Association Images

NORTH KOREA HAS dropped thousands of leaflets attacking South Korea’s government across their shared border for the first time in 12 years, the South’s defence ministry said today.

South Korean soldiers collected 16,000 leaflets floated by the North across the heavily-fortified frontier over five days from July 21, the ministry said.

The leaflets contain criticism of President Lee Myung-bak’s administration and of its alleged plot to destroy a statue of the North’s late leader, the ministry said.

“North Korea used balloons to send the leaflets, which were found scattered in border areas,” a ministry official told AFP.

It is the first time North Korea has dropped such leaflets since promising not to slander Seoul at a landmark 2000 summit, he said.

In 2004 the two sides agreed to switch off loudspeakers along the border, as part of a deal to halt all official-level cross-border propaganda.

Relations between the neighbours have sharply worsened since Lee scrapped an aid and engagement policy in 2008.

Floating leaflets

Tensions remain high after the North’s failed rocket launch in April, seen by the United States and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.

Pyongyang has also threatened attacks on Lee’s government and conservative media for perceived insults to its regime.

Last week a defector who returned to the North after living in the South claimed that Seoul agents had promised him handsome rewards if he went back to his homeland and blew up a statue of Kim Il-Sung.

Jon Yong-Chol told a Pyongyang press conference he had been recruited for the mission after settling in the South. Seoul’s intelligence agency denied the allegation.

The South’s military resumed floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets in late 2010 after the North shelled a border island and killed four South Koreans.

The military propaganda balloon launches were suspended a year later, but South Korean activists continue to regularly drop anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

The North, which tightly controls news from outside, has angrily responded to the leaflet launches and threatened to fire across the border to stop them.

- © AFP, 2012

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