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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

North Korean Filth Balloons Blow Up Peace Deal With the South

South Korea on Monday announced it will suspend a military deal signed with North Korea in order to punish Kim Jong Un’s regime for sending waves of balloons carrying garbage and excrement over the border.

Almost 1,000 balloons floated southward across the fortified border dividing the Korean peninsula since Thursday, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, prompting a furious response from Seoul, which vowed to take “unbearable” retaliatory measures on Sunday. North Korea announced it would stop sending the balloons hours after the threat over the weekend, but the South is now poised to take punitive action regardless.

South Korea’s National Security Council said it would suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement that had aimed to reduce tensions along the border. The presidential council said it would seek cabinet approval to suspend the agreement Tuesday and noted that the suspension would allow South Korea’s military to conduct drills close to the border.

The deal will remain suspended “until mutual trust between the two Koreas is restored,” the presidential office said.

The pact emerged after months of summit talks between the two nations in 2018, but it has been on the brink of collapse since North Korea launched a spy satellite in November. South Korea partly suspended the agreement by resuming surveillance flights on the border, and Pyongyang further hastened the deal’s demise with artillery fire drills close to its western sea border with the South in January.

While the pact required both sides to end hostile acts toward each other, it did not explicitly ban civilian leafleting, according to the Associated Press. That means activists in South Korea had been able to continue sending balloons over the border into the North carrying anti-regime leaflets and USB sticks containing world news, provoking fury in Pyongyang.

The balloons from the North started arriving in the South last week after Kim Kang Il, North Korea’s vice defense minister, accused Seoul of “scattering leaflets and various dirty things near border area” and promised to take “tit-for-tat action” in response.

On Sunday, he said North Korea had “scattered 15 tons of wastepaper, favorite toy of the human scum, over the border areas” of South Korea. Kim Kang Il said Pyongyang would now “halt” the campaign as the South now had “enough experience” of how “unpleasant” the balloons are and “how much effort” it takes to clean them up.

If the South continues with its own balloons, he added, “we will correspond to it by intensively scattering wastepaper and rubbish hundred times the amount of scattered leaflets and the number of cases, as we have already warned.”

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