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Thursday, June 11, 2020, 23:32
ROK says to sternly deal with sending of anti-DPRK leaflets
By Agencies
Thursday, June 11, 2020, 23:32 By Agencies

In this July 29, 2010, file photo, ROK activists launch balloons carrying anti-DPRK leaflets during a rally in Hwacheon, the ROK. (AHN YOUNG-JOON/AP)

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK)'s presidential Blue House said on Thursday that the country will sternly deal with any act to scatter leaflets criticizing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) across the inter-Korean border.

Kim You-geun, first deputy director of the Blue House National Security Office (NSO), told a press briefing that the government will thoroughly clamp down on the dispersion of anti-DPRK leaflets and materials, saying any violation will be sternly dealt with according to domestic law.

READ MORE: KCNA: DPRK says US meddling could affect election

Kim urged local civic groups to thoroughly follow relevant laws, noting that the government will continue to observe all the agreements, reached between the two Koreas, to maintain peace and prevent any accidental military skirmish on the Korean Peninsula.

The Unification Ministry said it had asked Seoul police to investigate the groups.

Kuensaem Education Center and Fighters for a Free North Korea have been accused of violating the Inter-Korean Exchange and Co-operation Act by sending leaflets and aid such as rice and medicine to the North

It came a day after the ROK government decided to file a legal complaint against two local civic groups, which have delivered anti-DPRK propaganda leaflets across the border by flying balloons into the wind or setting the sealed plastic bottles into the ocean near the border areas.  

The two groups, run by DPRK defectors, said they intend to continue sending propaganda leaflets and humanitarian aid into the DPRK, despite criticism from governments in both countries.

The ROK has accused the two groups, Kuensaem Education Center and Fighters for a Free North Korea, of violating the Inter-Korean Exchange and Co-operation Act by sending leaflets and aid such as rice and medicine.

The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea while the ROK as South Korea.

For the past week, DPRK state media have carried a series of reports and statements from senior officials expressing outrage over defectors.

Park Jung-oh, who defected to the ROK in 2000 and heads Kuensaem, said the organization is still planning to send hundreds of bottles stuffed with rice, medicine and medical face masks to the DPRK by throwing them into the sea near the border next week.

ALSO READ: ROK seeks stop to anti-DPRK leaflets after DPRK complaint

Fighters for a Free North Korea, which is run by Park’s brother Park Sang-hak, has also said it plans to send more leaflets into the DPRK by balloon over the heavily fortified border.

The ROK authorities have occasionally moved to stop such operations, including in 2018 during a series of summits between ROK President Moon Jae-in and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

The Unification Ministry said it was considering a law to ban the leaflets and aid, saying they raise tensions with the DPRK, pose risks to ROK people living near the border, and cause environmental damage

This week, the ministry said it was considering a law to ban the leaflets and aid, saying they raise tensions with the DPRK, pose risks to ROK people living near the border, and cause environmental damage.

ROK residents near the border have complained about the two defector groups and they had failed to register the goods before sending them to the North, the ministry said when asked why they had been singled out from around a dozen groups which send goods over the border.

Over the weekend some locals stopped an effort by a separate group to send bottles of rice by sea.

In a poll released on Thursday by ROK pollster Realmeter, 50 percent of those surveyed said they would support a ban on such operations, while 41 percent said they were opposed.

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