Seoul gov’t asks activists to refrain from provoking North Korea

October 9, 2014
protest, kim jong-un

Seoul government asked activists to refrain from provoking North Korea on Thursday. (NEWSis)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — In an apparent attempt to save what appears to be the latest momentum for dialogue between the divided Koreas, the Seoul government on Thursday asked civic activists to scrap their plan to float anti-North Korea leaflets across the border into the communist nation.

In a short texted message, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it “wishes the civic organization will make a careful and wise decision,” referring to its plan to send by balloons hundreds of thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets on the founding anniversary Friday of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

The activist group, called the Fighters for Free North Korea, has routinely flown propaganda leaflets by balloons across the border into the North, prompting the communist regime to protest.

The ministry’s message came shortly after Pyongyang warned that Seoul stop the activist group from sending anti-North Korea leaflets into the North or face an “uncontrollable catastrophe” in inter-Korean relatgions. .

“We declared more than once that the act of scattering leaflets against the DPRK is little short of a declaration of a war,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the communist state’s official Korean Central News Agency. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“If the South Korean authorities allow or connive at the projected leaflet-scattering operation, the North-South relations will again be pushed to an uncontrollable catastrophe and the provokers will be wholly accountable for it,” the statement said.

Seoul had previously ignored such a North Korean demand, telling the communist state that it had no legal means to prevent civic organizations from engaging in what it has repeatedly called a perfectly legal action.

Thursday’s message from the Unification Ministry came as the two Koreas are soon expected to hold another round of high-level dialogue, possibly aimed at discussing an inter-Korean summit.

A high-level North Korean delegation, led by Army Vice Marshall Hwang Pyong-so who is believed to the second most powerful man in the North, made a surprise visit to South Korea last week, raising hopes for better ties between the two Korean states.

The North Koreans’ visit was ostensibly to attend the closing ceremony Friday of the Incheon Asian Games where its athletes competed, but it was seen as a calculated North Korean move to improve ties with Seoul. During their 12-hour stay in South Korea, the North Koreans agreed to hold another round of high-level talks before early November at the latest.