S. Korean police ban activists from floating anti-N. Korean leaflets

July 27, 2015
South Korean activists send anti-Pyonyang leaflets over the norther border. (NEWSis)

South Korean activists send anti-Pyonyang leaflets over the norther border. (NEWSis)

PAJU, July 27 (Yonhap) — Hundreds of police cordoned off an area near the border with North Korea Monday to prevent South Korean activists from floating leaflets critical of North Korea, police said.

About 10 conservative activists said they had planned to launch balloons carrying about 30,000 leaflets at Imjingak near the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.

The activists could not float the balloons as about 400 police officers and riot police with no riot gear banned them from accessing the original launch site at Imjingak.

The activists later moved to a nearby location and held a rally before peacefully dispersing themselves.

“There was no scuffle between police and the activists,” said Lee Hyuck-ho, a police official handling the issue.

Local residents put up placards near Imjingak to voice their opposition to the anti-North Korean leafleting campaign.

The move is the latest in a series of cases that illustrated deep divisions among South Koreans on how to deal with North Korea.

For years, North Korean defectors in the South and conservative activists have flown the leaflets to the North via balloons to help encourage North Koreans to eventually rise up against the Pyongyang regime.

North Korea has repeatedly called for an end to the leafleting campaign that it claims insults its dignity. The issue has long been a constant source of tension between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

South Korea has said there are no legal grounds to prevent its activists from floating the leaflets, citing freedom of expression.

A local court ruled earlier this year that South Korean authorities can intervene and stop the leafleting campaign if there is a clear threat to the safety of South Koreans.

In October, the two Koreas exchanged machine gun fire across the border after the North apparently tried to shoot down balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets.