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N.K. people's access to information should be expanded without hurting rights of other people: ministry

North Korea 14:24 March 31, 2021

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korean people's access to outside information should be expanded but not at the expense of the safety of people living in border regions in South Korea, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

A ministry official made the remarks after the U.S. State Department stressed the importance of free flows of information to the reclusive North, referring to South Korea's recently enforced law banning the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets in its annual human rights report.

"Our government also recognizes the importance of enhancing North Korean people's right to know and information flows (to the North)," the official said. "It is still not desirable that such efforts are made in a way that would hurt the rights of other people and the lives, bodies and peace of the people living in border regions."

The official added that the government will seek cooperation with the international community and nongovernmental organizations to get more accurate information into the North.

The ban went into effect Tuesday, prohibiting the sending of propaganda leaflets into the North, with violators subject to a maximum prison term of three years or a fine of 30 million won (US$27,400).

The government has claimed that the ban does not help provide accurate information to the North Korean people but just jeopardizes the people in the border regions, where most of the leaflets are sent via balloon.

Police officers collect a balloon containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets at a mountain in Hongcheon, a town in South Korea's northeastern province of Gangwon, in this file photo taken June 23, 2020. Fighters for a Free North Korea, a Seoul-based organization of North Korean defectors advocating for North Korean human rights, claimed it sent such balloons toward North Korea in the South Korean border town of Paju, north of Seoul, the previous day. (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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