North Korea dropped balloons carrying trash and propaganda into the South

image caption, Seoul officials have warned residents to avoid going outside and to not touch any “unknown objects”.

  • the author, Kelly Ng
  • the role, BBC News

North Korea has dropped at least 150 balloons containing propaganda leaflets and garbage, prompting officials to warn residents to stay indoors.

South Korea's military also warned the public on Wednesday against touching the white balloons and the plastic bags attached to them because they contain “dirty waste and garbage.”

The balloons have been found in eight of the nine provinces of South Korea and are now being analyzed by relevant authorities.

Both North and South Korea have used balloons in their propaganda campaigns since the Korean War in the 1950s.

The latest incident comes as North Korea said it would retaliate against the “scattering of leaflets and other rubbish” in border areas by activists in the South.

North Korean Vice Defense Minister Kim Kang-il said in a statement that “heaps of garbage and filth will soon be scattered across the border areas and the interior of the ROK, and it will directly test how hard it is to remove them.” need.” to official media on Sunday.

Republic of Korea or ROK is the official name of South Korea while the North is called DPRK or Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Late Tuesday, residents north of the South's capital Seoul and in the border region received text messages from their provincial authorities asking them to “refrain from outdoor activities.”

They were also told to file a report at the nearest army base or police station if they saw any “unknown object”.

image source, South Korean Army

image caption, South Korean officials said the bags “contained dirty waste and trash” and were being analyzed by relevant authorities.

Photos shared on social media showed white translucent balloons attached by string to bags containing toilet paper, clay and batteries.

Some of these pictures show police and military officers.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that “some of the fallen balloons have a dark color and smell to them”.

South Korea's military has condemned the action, calling it a “flagrant violation of international law”.

“This poses a serious threat to the safety of our people. North Korea is fully responsible for what happens due to the balloons, and we strongly warn North Korea to immediately Stop this inhumane and cruel act.”

In addition to anti-Pyongyang propaganda, activists in South Korea have launched balloons carrying, among other things, cash, banned media materials, and even Choco Pies – a South Korean snack that is banned in the North.

Earlier this month, an activist group based in South Korea claimed to have sent 20 balloons containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets and USB sticks containing Korean pop music and music videos.

Seoul's parliament passed a law in December 2020 that criminalizes the publication of anti-Pyongyang pamphlets, but critics have raised concerns about freedom of expression and human rights.

North Korea has also released balloons to the South that attacked Seoul's leaders. In one such launch in 2016, the balloons reportedly carried toilet paper, cigarette butts and garbage. Seoul police called them “dangerous biochemical substances.”

With additional reporting by Jack Cowen in Seoul

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