North Korea Resumes Trash-Laden Balloons Feud with South Korea

North Korea Resumes Trash-Laden Balloons Feud with South Korea

Seoul - North Korea has reignited tensions with South Korea by sending hundreds of trash-filled balloons across the border. This move is a response to South Korean activists who have been floating packages northward containing K-pop and K-dramas on USB sticks.

Since Saturday night, North Korea has launched about 330 balloons carrying bags of trash, with approximately 80 landing in South Korea, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The packages contained waste paper and plastic but no hazardous substances.

Since May 28, around 1,060 North Korean balloons have entered South Korean territory. In response to this latest wave, South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday.

Last week, North Korean state media KCNA reported that 3,500 balloons carrying 15 tonnes of trash were sent to South Korea, as claimed by North Korea’s Vice Defense Minister Kim Kang Il.

In retaliation, South Korea's military resumed loudspeaker broadcasts into North Korea on Sunday afternoon. These broadcasts, which were previously used for psychological warfare, inform North Koreans about their country’s reality, South Korea’s development, and Korean culture. The JCS stated that they could quickly restart these broadcasts if necessary, emphasizing that North Korea is "fully responsible" for the current situation and urging them to "immediately stop such mean acts like sending waste balloons."

The long-standing balloon feud dates back decades, stemming from the Korean War, which ended in an armistice in 1953. Groups like Fighters for a Free North Korea have traditionally sent balloons north with items prohibited in the isolated regime, including food, medicine, radios, propaganda leaflets, and South Korean news.

In May, North Korea retaliated by sending balloons filled with trash and other debris into South Korea. Vice Defense Minister Kim stated that the balloons were a "responsive act" to South Korea's long-standing practice of sending anti-North Korea leaflets. Although Kim mentioned last week that North Korea would "temporarily halt dropping trash over the border," South Korean activists recently sent another batch of balloons northward, containing anti-Kim Jong Un leaflets and USB sticks with K-pop and K-dramas.

South Korea’s JCS warned that North Korea is "boosting its presumed trash balloons" and advised citizens to be cautious of falling objects, to avoid touching any fallen balloons, and to report them to the nearest military base or police station.

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