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(2nd LD) N. Korea scatters propaganda leaflets into S. Korea, demands halting broadcasts

All Headlines 15:20 January 13, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korean propaganda leaflets have been spotted in Seoul and its adjacent areas, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday, with many of them demanding Seoul halt its loudspeaker broadcasts, which started in retaliation of the communist country's recent nuclear test.

"North Korea was seen scattering leaflets from the northern side Tuesday afternoon and early in the morning today," the JCS said.

Earlier in the day, the police retrieved the leaflets, some of them carried in big plastic balloons, in the northeastern part of Seoul and other towns close to the border, including Paju, Uijeongbu and Dongducheon.

Some of the fliers, released by the JCS, carried criticism of President Park Geun-hye, as well as calls for South Korea to stop its loudspeaker broadcasts along the inter-Korean border.

"Knock out the gang of Park Geun-hye who aggravated North-South relations by resuming anti-North psychological warfare broadcasts," read one of the leaflets, which was about the size of a postcard.

"Stop the psychological warfare broadcasts that light the fuse of war," other leaflets demanded.

Those leaflets may have been sent to the South side in big plastic balloons launched from north of the South Korean border village of Imjingak, a JCS official said.

The South Korean military is watching out for any military action and "stand ready to conduct its own leaflet operations at any time," the JCS official added.

Inter-Korean military tensions are rising after North Korea conducted a test of what it claims was a hydrogen bomb on Jan. 6.

In retaliation, Seoul resumed loudspeaker broadcasts along the border, blasting propaganda messages critical of North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korea had previously relaunched the broadcast operation after a 10-year hiatus following two South Korean soldiers being maimed by land mines buried on the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone by the North in early August.

North Korea fired artillery shells at the South in anger over the broadcasts before the two countries struck the so-called "Aug. 25" agreement to ease military tensions and facilitate talks.

In an inter-Korean agreement in 2004, the two neighbors had agreed to end all kinds of hostile propaganda activities between them, including broadcasts and sending leaflets.

In counteraction of Seoul's resumption of the retaliatory broadcasts on Friday, Pyongyang launched its own loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border, escalating psychology warfare over the tensely guarded border.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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