FREEDOM ACTIVISTS SEND BALLOONS WITH A MESSAGE FOR NORTH KOREA REGIME

The Washington Times on October 22, 2012, published an AP report on South Korean activists floating balloons carrying tens of thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea on Monday, eluding police who had disrupted an earlier launch attempt.

South Korean police, citing security concerns, had sent hundreds of officers on October 22 to seal off roads and prevent the activists and other people from gathering at an announced balloon launch site near the border.

Residents in the area also were asked to evacuate to underground facilities, according to local official Kim Jin-a.

Later in the day, some of the activists, mostly North Korean defectors, moved to another site near the border that was not guarded by police and carried out the launch of the balloons.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it was closely monitoring North Korea’s military movements, but there were no suspicious activities.

But Seoul’s Yonhap news agency reported that the ban on entering the border area was imposed as South Korea detected that North Korea had removed artillery muzzle covers and deployed troops to artillery positions in possible preparation for an attack.

The activists said they floated balloons carrying about 120,000 leaflets critical of North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un and his country’s alleged human rights abuses. They said they wanted to let North Korean people know the true nature of their country.

Lead activist Park Sang-hak had said the ban on entering the border area was tantamount to yielding to Pyongyang’s threat. “It’s surrender. It’s clearly surrender,” he said.

On Monday, the top U.S. envoy on North Korea urged Pyongyang to stop issuing destabilizing threats.

“It is grossly disproportionate to have threatened to respond to balloons with bombs,” Glyn Davies told reporters in Beijing after meeting with Chinese officials.

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