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Gyeonggi names 'danger zones' to block anti-N. Korean leaflets

All News 12:03 June 12, 2020

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- The provincial government of Gyeonggi, which surrounds Seoul, said Friday it will thoroughly block any attempt to send anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border by designating parts of its border areas as off-limits danger zones.

The Gyeonggi government said the planned designation is one of its three measures to prevent North Korean defectors and South Korean activists from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets and materials into the North from the northern border areas.

Under the measure, the government said it plans to designate inter-Korean border areas in four cities and counties -- Gimpo, Goyang, Paju and Yeoncheon -- as danger zones that are off limits to suspected leaflet senders. The designation can be enforced, as potential clashes stemming from the distribution of leaflets can be seen as a social disaster under the Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety, it explained.

Gyeonggi names 'danger zones' to block anti-N. Korean leaflets - 1

The two other measures by Gyeonggi Province are the preemptive detection and prevention of any preparations to send leaflets, such as vehicle movements and filling balloons with gas, and the mobilization of special judicial police in crackdowns, investigations and legal complaints against leaflet senders, it said.

Gyeonggi Vice Governor for Peace Lee Jae-gang said in a news conference that his government will mobilize all possible administrative capabilities to protect the lives and safety of the provincial residents.

"The distribution of anti-North Korean leaflets goes beyond a simple expression of opinions and should be regarded as a dangerous, crisis-inciting act that can cause military conflicts," said Lee.

Provincial officials said all suspected senders of anti-Pyongyang leaflets and materials will be barred from entering the danger zones, and violators will be detained for legal punishment. Distributors of unregistered leaflets will also be fined under the outdoor advertisement management law, they added.

In addition, the provincial government will apply the Wastes Control Act in cracking down on and punishing those responsible for dumping leaflets and plastic bottles containing rice on the ground or into the sea, the officials said, adding that the High-Pressure Gas Safety Control Act will also be applied to regulate the use of high-pressure gas for the North-bound balloons.

The Gyeonggi government's measures came one day after the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae warned that the Moon Jae-in government would thoroughly crack down on campaigns to send propaganda leaflets into North Korea.

Defectors and anti-Pyongyang activists have sent a large number of leaflets and materials via giant balloons criticizing the communist regime and its leader Kim Jong-un. These are often launched with US$1 bills and USB memory sticks to get more North Koreans to pick up the leaflets.

The propaganda leaflets have lately emerged as a hot button issue after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, last week condemned such leafleting as a hostile act running counter to inter-Korean peace agreements. In response, the Moon government immediately promised to ban such activities through legislation, though defectors and activists have vowed not to give up their campaigns.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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