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(LEAD) Defector group plans to send leaflets to N. Korea next week

North Korea 16:44 April 23, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS comments from unification ministry in 6th para)

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean defector group said Friday it plans to send thousands of leaflets to North Korea next week despite a recently enacted ban on such leafleting.

Park Sang-hak, a defector who heads Fighters for a Free North Korea, told Yonhap News Agency on Friday that his group plans to send leaflets across the border at an unannounced time and location from this Sunday to May 1.

"The leaflets will include a message criticizing their three-generation hereditary dictatorship and telling them to give out at least the minimum amount of food required for North Korean people," he said.

The activist group will launch some 500,000 leaflets with 5,000 US$1 bills and small booklets, he said.

Park also denounced the anti-Pyongyang leaflet ban enacted last month as an "infringement on fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution."

The unification ministry said it will "manage the situation" regarding the group's leafleting plan in cooperation with the police and other relevant authorities.

The amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act prohibits the launching 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).

South Korea has stressed that the leafleting ban is necessary to protect the lives and safety of residents living in the border areas as such leaflets could provoke the North to take bellicose action. Critics say the law could undercut efforts to send information into the reclusive North.

Park earlier filed a constitutional complaint against the ban.

Police officers collect a balloon containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets at a mountain in Hongcheon, a town in South Korea's northeastern province of Gangwon, on June 23, 2020, in this file photo. 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)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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