Balloon campaign threatens Korea talks

North Korea throws talks with South into doubt following launch of anti-North leaflets

Balloon campaign threatens Korea talks

World Bulletin/News Desk

North Korea has threatened to reconsider further high-level talks with South Korea, the South’s government said Monday.

A statement from the South's Ministry of Unification revealed the North’s National Defense Commission sent a fax message Sunday in response to activists’ latest attempts to float tens of thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border on balloons.

According to the statement, the communist government urged the two sides to "think about whether high-level contact can be held in such a mood." The North has repeatedly blamed the Seoul government for failing to prevent the launch of leaflets criticizing Kim Jong-un’s government and its human rights record.

The talks were due to be held next week. South Korea’s news agency Yonhap cited the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying the leaflet campaign would lead to "very severe" consequences and likening it to a declaration of war.

Pyongyang has threatened military action in response to the leaflets and earlier this month North Korean machine-gunners brought down a low-flying balloon. The two countries have engaged in recent cross-border exchanges of gunfire without any reported casualties.

On Saturday local South Korean residents were joined by left-wing protesters in physically blocking some balloons from being flown for fear of provoking the North and endangering residents near the border.

Seoul maintains that it cannot legally stop the activists, many of whom are North Korean refugees. The activists shifted their planned launch site from Imjingak to Gimpo later Saturday to send tens of thousands of leaflets.

The issue has brought into question then whether the two Koreas will hold follow-up talks as planned after the surprise visit of the North’s effective second-in-command, Hwang Pyong-so, to the South on October 4.

The two sides remain technically at war as they never signed a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Earlier this month military talks were held at the border village of Panmunjom to reduce heightened tensions, according to a military source quoted by Yonhap.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Ekim 2014, 12:40