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(LEAD) N. Korea warns S. Korea over propaganda activities

All Headlines 19:56 April 10, 2010

(ATTN: ADDS South Korea's response, details)

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military warned Saturday that it would take "decisive measures" if South Korea does not draw up plans to prevent propaganda activities such as sending leaflets to the communist state.

The two Koreas agreed in 2004 to stop decades of propaganda warfare across the Demilitarized Zone dividing the nations, but the South Korean government says it can not prevent activists from sending the leaflets, citing freedom of speech.

"We will take corresponding decisive measures soon unless the South side takes an understandable measure to discontinue the despicable psychological smear campaign and formally notifies the North side of it," the country's the official Korean Central News Agency cited comments by military officials.

For years, South Korean activists have been flying propaganda leaflets into North Korea by balloon in order to let ordinary people there know about the North's leader Kim Jong-il's alleged lavish lifestyle and womanizing -- and lately his ill health.

Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have been strained since South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008 with a pledge to take a harder line with the communist neighbor.

North Korea has strongly denounced the propaganda offensive as "provocative" and demanded that it be stopped. South Korea said it has no pertinent law to regulate it.

"Such foolish acts are a wanton violation and blatant challenge to the agreement reached between the two sides to stop all the propaganda activities against each other," the agency reported.

In a response to the North's warning against the leaflets, the South Korean government said, "We have sincerely implemented the (2004) agreement to end propaganda campaigns against each other and we hope the issue does not make a hitch in the development of inter-Korean relations."

The North's warning came two days after North Korea scrapped a tourism deal with the South on its scenic mountain resort and froze assets owned by South Korea at the Mount Kumgang resort.

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