Activist Park Sang-hak launches anti-North Korean balloons over the border


An activist says he launched huge balloons bearing COVID-19 relief and an anti-Kim Jong Un banner over the inter-Korean border.

North Korean defector Park Sang-hak said 20 balloons were launched from a South Korean border town on Sunday, carrying 20,000 masks and tens of thousands of painkillers and vitamin C tablets.

One of the balloons carried a sign reading “Let’s eradicate Kim Jong Un and Kim Yo Jong,” along with photos of the siblings.

Mr Park has been warned and attacked for previous balloon flights.

Last month, the North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, said the country would “eliminate the South Korean authorities” if “garbage” continued to arrive from the south.

A few days later, Mr. Park was attacked by a man wielding a steel pipe during a rally in Seoul.

For years, Mr Park floated helium-filled balloons with small anti-Pyongyang leaflets criticizing North Korea’s authoritarian Kim family rule.

Park Sang-hak holds the sign before tossing it over the border. (AP: Fighters for a Free North Korea)

But it has replaced its cargo with masks and other health products since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a failed assassination attempt in 2011, South Korean authorities captured a North Korean agent attempting to kill Mr Park with a pen fitted with a poisoned needle.

North Korea is extremely sensitive to leafleting campaigns and other outside attempts to criticize the Kim family’s rule over its people, most of whom have little access to foreign information.

In 2014, North Korea fired on balloons flying towards its territory and in 2020 it destroyed an empty liaison office built by South Korea in the North in retaliation for distributing leaflets.

Last year, South Korea, under its previous liberal government, enforced a controversial new law criminalizing civil leafleting campaigns.

Mr Park was given a suspended fine of 3 million won ($3,224) for previous balloon flights.

After sending balloons carrying medicine across the border in July, police said they were investigating Mr Park’s activities. Mr Park said he was not contacted by police about the launch.

Police were not immediately available for comment.



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