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S. Korean Activists Break Blockade to Send Leaflets to N. Korea

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S. Korean Activists Break Blockade to Send Leaflets to N. Korea
Anti-Pyongyang activists, including North Korean defectors in Seoul, float giant balloons carrying leaflets criticising North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un from Imjingak park, near the North-South border in Paju, on Sept. 9, 2012. Photographer: Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- South Korean activists eluded police and floated balloons across the northern border to drop leaflets criticizing Kim Jong Un’s communist regime.

Defying warnings that North Korea’s military may fire on them, about 10 people launched balloons carrying 120,000 leaflets from a border island off the west coast, activists from Free North Korea Radio, a Seoul-based group which broadcasts outside news to the North, said in a statement on its website. They broke off from an original group of 80 who were blocked by South Korean police earlier in the day at their favored launch site at Imjingak, an outpost on the edge of the demilitarized zone.

North Korea on Oct. 19 threatened “direct firing” at the balloon launch site, the first such warning against activists since Kim Jong Un succeeded his father as dictator in December. Under the late Kim Jong Il, threats were routinely made against the distribution of leaflets, without action being taken. Five episodes earlier this year drew no response from North Korea.

The government in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang characterizes the leaflet drops as psychological warfare and an attempt to topple its communist regime -- provocations which it has said could ignite a war.

South Korean activists and North Koreans who have defected to the South have sent such leaflets for years, sometimes including gifts such as U.S. dollar bills and candy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at syoon32@bloomberg.net

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

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