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Updated: March 2, 2011 15:17 IST

South Koreans to send Mideast protest videos to North Korea

AP
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A South Korean anti-war protester participates during a rally against South Korean activists who launch propaganda leaflets towards North Korea, at a main gate of the Defence Ministry in Seoul, on Wednesday. Photo: AP.
A South Korean anti-war protester participates during a rally against South Korean activists who launch propaganda leaflets towards North Korea, at a main gate of the Defence Ministry in Seoul, on Wednesday. Photo: AP.

Friction between the Koreas is already high following Monday’s start of annual South Korean—U.S. military drills, which North Korea has called a rehearsal for invasion that could trigger a nuclear war. The North’s military has also warned that it would attack South Korean border towns if Seoul allows activists to send balloons carrying leaflets critical of Pyongyang.

South Korean activists vowed on Wednesday to bombard North Korea with propaganda material that includes footage of Middle East protests and urges rebellion despite Pyongyang’s threats to open fire in retaliation.

Friction between the Koreas is already high following Monday’s start of annual South Korean—U.S. military drills, which North Korea has called a rehearsal for invasion that could trigger a nuclear war. The North’s military has also warned that it would attack South Korean border towns if Seoul allows activists to send balloons carrying leaflets critical of Pyongyang.

North Korea, which closely controls the flow of information within its borders, considers the leaflets an attack on its government and regularly lashes out against the South for permitting activists to launch them.

On Wednesday, the Seoul—based Fighters for Free North Korea said it would send about 200,000 propaganda leaflets, one—dollar bills and USB flash drives carrying videos on the recent wave of uprising against authoritarian rulers in Egypt, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries as early as Monday.

“We won’t yield to the North’s threat and blackmailing,” Park Sang—hak, the head of the group, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Most ordinary North Koreans don’t have personal computers at their homes, but Mr. Park said they could still use school and office computers to secretly watch the videos. He said the leaflets will urge North Koreans to rebel against their leaders and show news about North Korean human rights violations.

Mr. Park, who defected to South Korea in early 2000, said his group has sent about three-million propaganda leaflets toward North Korea every year since 2004. Mr. Park said wind direction and other weather conditions would be the only things that could change his plans.

South Korea says it cannot prevent the propaganda from being sent, citing freedom of speech protections.

A small group of anti—war activists, meanwhile, rallied on Wednesday in Seoul against the propaganda launches and the U.S.—South Korean military drills.

South Korean police have been placed on high alert over possible North Korean terror attacks since the military drills began. Police commandos and dogs were patrolling subway stations, airports and other major public facilities, while armoured vehicles were deployed near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, according to the National Police Agency.

The two Koreas - still technically in a state of war - agreed in 2004 to end decades of propaganda warfare across their heavily fortified border. But the North’s alleged torpedoing of a South Korean warship and its artillery attack on a South Korean island last year led Seoul to resume propaganda radio broadcasts. Seoul also allowed a church to light a giant steel Christmas tree near the border that Pyongyang condemned as a psychological provocation.

South Korea’s military has also floated balloons carrying about three-million leaflets containing news about Egyptian and Libyan protests as well as daily necessities like soap, underwear, medicine and radios towards the North since the island bombardment in November, South Korean lawmaker Song Young—sun said last week, citing a private briefing by Defence Ministry officials. Defence Ministry and military officials said they couldn’t confirm Mr. Song’s claim.

Also on Wednesday, Robert Einhorn, a U.S. special adviser for non-proliferation, told reporters in Seoul that the United States and South Korea are seeking a U.N. statement condemning North Korea’s recently disclosed uranium enrichment programme, which could give Pyongyang a second way to make atomic bombs.

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