Unification ministry welcomes passage of anti-leafleting bill by parliamentary committee
SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry on Wednesday welcomed a parliamentary committee's passage of a proposal to ban the flying of propaganda leaflets into North Korea, saying the measure will help protect residents in border regions and ease cross-border tensions.
The government and the ruling Democratic Party have been seeking to legislate a ban on the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets after North Korea bristled at such activity and even blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in June in anger.
Pyongyang has denounced the leafleting as a violation of inter-Korean agreements and demanded that Seoul take preventive measures.
The foreign affairs committee of the National Assembly convened a plenary session earlier in the day and passed the bill that would penalize leafleting. Opposition party members boycotted the meeting, saying its passage is tantamount to succumbing to pressure from North Korea.
"We welcome that the bill has been passed at the plenary meeting today," the ministry said in a press release.
The ministry noted that the bill, if enacted, will contribute to keeping people in border regions out of harm's way and pave the way for easing tensions and building peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The government has advised against sending such leaflets, citing concerns about the safety of residents in border areas where leaflet-carrying balloons are launched because the North could take retaliatory military action in the areas.
North Korean defector groups, however, have ignored the appeals, saying banning the sending of leaflets would violate their right to freedom of speech.
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