By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - A standoff over information leaflets and Bibles being sent by defectors and Christian groups into North Korea has flared up again.
The South Korean government has reportedly
condemned the actions, while activist groups have vowed to continue the practice.
Seoul's Ministry of Unification said in published remarks that sending leaflets targeting North Korea’s autocratic leadership increases tensions and "poses a threat to the lives and safety of border area residents of the South."
"[F]reedom of expression is not unlimited but can be restricted for national security and public welfare," its statement said.
The Ministry of Unification last month filed criminal complaints against leaders of two defector groups responsible for sending leaflets and plastic bottles filled with rice to the North.
The leaders, Park Sang-hak and his brother Park Jung-o defended their actions.
"As long as [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un continues to threaten South Korea with nuclear missiles and nuclear armaments, we will continue to send leaflets to North Korea," said Park Sang-hak, of the group Fighters for a Free North Korea. "And as long as he continues to pressure millions of our fellow North Korean residents at detention camps, we will continue to send leaflets.”
Among those detained in North Korea are many Christians and others deemed dangerous to the regime, activists say. Park confirmed that his group sent 500,000 leaflets on 20 balloons to the North on June 22.
South Korean officials reportedly claimed that most of the balloons didn't make it across. But Park claimed Monday that up to 18 of the balloons completed their journey.
He told reporters that even if he were sent to jail, the leaflet practice would continue. South Korea’s unusual move comes after the sister of North Korea’s ruler expressed outrage over balloons carrying Bibles or messages criticizing autocratic leadership.
Kim Yo Jung said North Korea would abandon a 2018 bilateral agreement with South Korea aimed at easing tensions if “the evil propaganda” continues to fly into her nation.
North Korea’s printing shops have also been working overtime to print millions of propaganda leaflets and send them across the world’s most heavily armed border and scattering them over South Korea. North Korea said it was preparing 3,000 balloons to carry the leaflets across the border, along with cigarette butts and other trash.