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(LEAD) Unification ministry files criminal complaint against leaflet-sending defector groups

All News 15:14 June 11, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS photo; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry filed a criminal complaint with police Thursday against two North Korean defector groups for sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, officials said.

The move came days after North Korea defined the South as an "enemy" and vowed to cut all inter-Korean communication lines in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by North Korean defectors.

The ministry said it filed a complaint with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Thursday against the two defector groups -- Fighters for Free North Korea and Keunsaem -- for sending leaflets and plastic bottles filled with rice into the North.

According to the ministry, sending leaflets and bottles into the North constitutes a violation of the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation act that bans sending goods to North Korea without government permission. The ministry also accused the groups of violating the aviation safety act and the public waters management act.

The ministry said it also decided to revoke business permits from the two groups.

North Korean defectors and anti-Pyongyang activists have for years sent a large number of leaflets via giant balloons. North Korea has bristled at such activities, saying they are aimed at tarnishing its leader.

The government has advised against sending such leaflets, citing concerns about the safety of residents in the border regions, but they have often ignored such an appeal, citing their right to freedom of expression.

Members of Fighters for Free North Korea, an organization of defectors from North Korea, send balloons carrying anti-North leaflets across the border from the South Korean border city of Paju, in this file photo dated April 2, 2016. On June 4, 2020, South Korea called for a halt to a civic campaign to send anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into North Korea, hours after the North threatened to scrap a military tension reduction agreement and exchange projects unless Seoul stops the campaign. (Yonhap)


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