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South Korea Prods North by Dropping Leaflets Telling of Mideast Protests

South Korea’s military has dropped leaflets on North Korea that tell of pro-democracy revolts in the Middle East with the intention of provoking a movement against Kim Jong Il’s regime, a South Korean lawmaker said.

The leaflets detail popular uprisings that toppled Egypt’s government and sparked a bloody crackdown in Libya, explaining that “a dictatorial regime is destined to collapse,” Song Yong Sun, a member of the National Assembly’s defense committee, said in an e-mailed statement today. The leaflets travel in balloons that distribute their cargo when they burst, according to her office.

South Korea has sent over 3 million leaflets across the border in renewed “psychological warfare” since North Korea shelled one of its islands in November, killing four people, the statement said. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency hasn’t reported on demonstrations in the Middle East.

The Chinese government this week blocked phone messages and websites to stamp out movements inspired by the Middle East revolts. China shares a border with North Korea and is the major economic benefactor and political ally.

A defense ministry official in Seoul declined to comment on Song’s statement, asking not to be named because of military policy.

“North Korean people’s protests may also be able to bring a change to the regime,” Song, a member of the Future Hope Party, said in the statement. “South Korea’s military and government should also be ready for any revolt inside North Korea.”

Rice, Medicines

The South Korean government hasn’t been able to confirm if there has been any protest in North Korea, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong Joo told reporters on Feb. 23.

South Korea has also started sending rice, clothing, medicines and radios in baskets tied to balloons this month for the first time in 11 years, Song said.

South Korea remains technically at war with North Korea since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a cease-fire.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bomi Lim in Seoul at blim30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Hong Kong at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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