North Korea says the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by South Korean groups is a violation of the recent inter-Korean deal easing tension on the Korean peninsula.
The state-run Uriminzokkiri website said Wednesday that plans to hold a family reunion event and talks to discuss improving ties with Seoul could be in danger of being cancelled because of the leaflets.
The site called on South Korea to stop the launches, saying the activities are blocking progress in bilateral relations between two Koreas.
North Korea’s warning came shortly after South Korean groups sent thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
On Tuesday, Lee Min-bok, a North Korean defector and activist living in South Korea, said his group launched balloons with some 1.2 million leaflets near the border.
“Since there is no free press in North Korea, [the leaflets] act as a sort of media outlet. The balloons carried one dollar bills, brochures, and DVDs containing information about the Korean War and South Korea,” Lee told VOA.
Lee said his group will continue sending the leaflets regardless of inter-Korean relations.
Another group sent some 60 balloons carrying 900,000 leaflets to the communist country. Earlier, Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector and leader of an activist group called Fighters for Free North Korea, said his group sent 200,000 leaflets across the border.
South Korea dismissed the North Korean demand, maintaining its previous position that the leaflet activity is irrelevant to the tension-easing agreement reached between the two sides last month.
Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, told reporters the government will not meddle in the private citizens’ campaign.
“It is our position that distributing the leaflets via balloons is an act of free speech guaranteed by the country’s constitution, therefore, the government cannot forcibly stop the activities without legal ground,” said Jeong.
South Korea is preparing for an inter-Korean family reunion event slated to begin later next month despite a possible long-range rocket launch by North Korea. The week-long event will be held at Mount Kumgang, North Korea’s famous resort.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it will dispatch a team of officials and technicians to North Korea Thursday to repair facilities at the resort.
Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.