North Korea voiced its disapproval on Wednesday regarding South Korea’s decision to repeal a law that prohibited private activists from dispatching anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets to the North. North Korea argues that these actions constitute a form of psychological warfare and has issued a warning of potential retaliation involving a barrage of artillery fire.
The Ministry of Unification in Seoul, responsible for inter-Korean matters, has initiated a process to eliminate the regulations prohibiting the release of balloons carrying propaganda leaflets throughout all regions of South Korea.
In a significant development, the Korean Central News Agency has spoken out for the first time about the Constitutional Court of South Korea’s ruling in September. This ruling nullified a 2020 law that had prohibited the distribution of leaflets, which was deemed to unduly restrict freedom of expression due to concerns about its impact on free speech.
The law’s repeal came about following a complaint from South Korean activists and North Korean defectors, including the North Korean Activist, Park Sang-Hak. He has been a significant target of North Korean government criticism for his extensive efforts in distributing leaflets across the border using large balloons.
North Korea is highly responsive to any external attempts aimed at challenging the authority of its authoritarian leader, Kim Jong Un, who maintains control over the nation’s 26 million residents while tightly restricting their access to foreign news.
Some argue that Seoul’s dissemination of anti-DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) leaflets are being equated to military operations, characterizing it as a form of “high-level psychological warfare” and even a “preemptive attack” aimed at “neutralizing” their adversary. These claims suggest that such leafleting could potentially contribute to the eventual downfall of the ‘Republic of Korea.’
In response to these developments, the enraged revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK have declared their intention to unleash a barrage of shells on the region controlled by South Korean authorities, which also serves as the hub for leaflet scattering. This represents a significant escalation of their previous countermeasures.
In 2022, North Korea made the dubious assertion that balloons launched from South Korea were responsible for its COVID-19 outbreak. This claim seemed to be an effort to assign blame to its rival, particularly as tensions were rising due to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
In a previous incident in 2014, North Korea had fired at propaganda balloons heading toward its territory, prompting South Korea to respond with artillery fire, although no casualties were reported.
In his most recent launch on September 20, Park Sang-Hak indicated that he released 20 balloons carrying 200,000 leaflets and 1,000 USB sticks from the South Korean border island of Ganghwa.