North Korea launches more garbage balloons towards South Korea: Why does it do this?

(CNN) — North Korea launched more garbage balloons into South Korea this Saturday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The launch is part of a new strategy with which Kim Jong Un’s government confronts its southern neighbor: sending floating bags of garbage containing “dirt” across the border, which are carried in giant flying balloons.

In an official statement, the JCS warned the public to be alert to objects falling from the sky and not to touch fallen balloons. The Seoul government also alerted residents, saying: “The military is taking action regarding unidentified objects, believed to be anti-South Korea leaflets, seen in the air near Seoul.”

“Please avoid outdoor activities, do not touch unknown objects and report to the military or police,” it said.

Why does Pyongyang do this?

According to the JCS, South Korea’s military reported the arrival of “a large number of balloons” from the North beginning Tuesday night, with more than 150 detected by Wednesday morning.

Photos released by the JCS showed plastic bags being carried in two huge balloons, with some torn packages leaving pieces of plastic, sheets of paper and dirt scattered across streets and sidewalks.

So far, the balloons contained “dirt and debris” and were being analyzed by government agencies, the JCS said, adding that the military was cooperating with the United Nations Command.

Saturday marked the second time this week that North Korea has sent garbage balloons to the South, in what top Pyongyang official Kim Yo Jong called “freedom of expression.”

According to North Korean state media KCNA, these launches are in retaliation against South Korean activists who often send materials to the North, including propaganda leaflets, food, medicine, radios and USB sticks containing South Korean news and television dramas, all of which are banned by the isolated totalitarian dictatorship in the country.

Activists in the South, including North Korean defectors, have long sent these materials into rivers via balloons, drones and floating bottles, even after South Korea’s parliament banned such actions in 2020.

“Spreading leaflets using balloons is a dangerous provocation that can be used for a specific military purpose,” North Korea’s Deputy National Defense Minister Kim Kang Il said, KCNA reported on Sunday.

He accused South Korea of ​​using “psychological warfare” by spreading “various dirty things” near border areas, and declared that the North would take “tit for tat” steps.

“Heaps of used paper and garbage will soon be scattered across (South Korea’s) border areas and interior, and it will be experienced firsthand how much effort is needed to eliminate them,” Kim said, according to KCNA. “We will take immediate action when our sovereignty, security and national interests are violated.”

Kim also condemned joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, which have increased in recent years as tensions have risen on the Korean Peninsula.

With reporting by CNN’s Jessie Yung and Yunjung Seo.

(tagstotranslate)South Korea

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