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Unification ministry drafting guidelines on leafleting ban to clarify 'scope of application': official

North Korea 16:16 December 24, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry is drafting guidelines on a recently legislated ban on sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea to provide a clear interpretation of the law before it goes into effect, an official said Thursday.

The amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act, which passed the National Assembly and the Cabinet earlier this month, has raised concerns among critics, including some U.S. lawmakers, that it could hurt freedom of expression and undercut efforts to send outside information into the reclusive North.

The guidelines will provide "clear interpretations" of the law including its scope of application, the official said.

"The ministry will finish establishing the guidelines before the law takes effect after a process of discussion with the relevant authorities," he added.

In the guidelines, the ministry will stress that the law does not apply to cases in which leaflets or other items are sent to the North from a third country. In such cases, the third country's law will be applied.

The official also said that the unification ministry, in cooperation with other ministries, has provided a fact sheet on the revision to 187 South Korean diplomatic missions abroad, as well as 114 foreign missions stationed in the country.

The law, scheduled to take effect three months later, prohibits the launch of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, with violators subject to a maximum prison term of three years or a fine of 30 million won (US$27,400).

Members of Fighters for a Free North Korea, a civic organization of North Korean defectors, prepare to send 20 large balloons carrying anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border in the border city of Gimpo, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2020, in this photo provided by the group. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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