Activists plan to send ‘The Interview’ DVDs to N. Korea, gov’t may intervene

January 9, 2015
(Courtesy of Human Rights Foundation)

(Courtesy of Human Rights Foundation)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea again signaled Friday that it may block a local activist group from sending DVDs of a controversial U.S. film about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un across the border.

The Fighters for a Free North Korea is planning to launch balloons containing the DVDs of “The Interview” later this month as part of their activities of spreading dissenting political messages in the communist country.

“The government plans to request (that the group) make a wise decision in order to prevent physical or property risks among local residents at the border area,” unification ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-chul said in a regular briefing.

Such DVD and leaflet campaigns by civic groups basically belong to the field of freedom of expression and it’s something that the private sector has to decide for themselves, but the government will take action to counter them if they are carried out in a way that threatens the safety of local residents, the spokesman noted.

The campaigns, mainly led by North Korean defectors who have settled in the South, have often drawn criticism, especially among residents of the border area where the campaigns are launched.

The North has repeatedly threatened to take military action against the spreading of anti-Pyongyang messages since the U.S. film, which depicts an assassination plot targeting Kim Jong-un, was released on Christmas Day by Sony Pictures.

Park Sang-hak, the head of the activist group, expressed his plan to go ahead with the DVD plan a day earlier. He, however, said that the group may roll it back if the unification ministry issues an official request.

In response to Park’s comments, the ministry spokesman said the government is currently not considering such an official request.

Amid growing concerns over the DVD plan, the ministry said a day earlier that the plan may provoke threats from the North, suggesting that it may take action to foil the activity.

On Friday, North Korea called for more cooperative attitudes from the South Korean government, saying that “All things depend on the attitudes of the South Korean government.”

“North-South talks (if they take place) should be ones that are trustful and productive in making actual progress of relations,” North Korea’s mainstream Rodong Sinmun said, referring to Seoul’s recent proposal for inter-Korean talks.