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Unification minister says law banning sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets unconstitutional

All News 11:26 November 10, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- The law banning the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea is unconstitutional and restricts the freedom of expression and political activities, Unification Minister Kwon Young-se has said in an opinion submitted to the Constitutional Court.

Kwon recently submitted the opinion for the court's constitutionality review of the so-called anti-North Korea leaflet prohibition law, initiated at the request of 27 civic groups, according to the Lawyers for Human Rights and Unification of Korea, which is also one of the petitioners.

The revised Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act went into force in March last year to prohibit 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$21,937).

The legislation sparked criticism that it restricts freedom of expression. But the government at that time countered that it is necessary for the safety of people living in border regions because such leafleting could provoke the North to undertake bellicose acts.

"The law goes against the Constitution because it infringes on freedom of expression," a copy of the opinion provided by the civic group showed Thursday.

Kwon defined the act of sending leaflets to the North as "political activity" aimed at influencing the North Korean regime or its people, saying banning such an act could constitute violating the freedom of political activities or expression of political opinion.

The unification minister also stressed that terms in the law, including those banning any acts at border areas that could trigger "harm to the lives and bodies of people and grave dangers," is so vaguely worded that the law could be enforced "arbitrarily."

In South Korea, some North Korean defectors, including the defectors' group the Fighters for a Free North Korea, often send big plastic balloons carrying leaflets over to the North in what they say is a bid to free North Korean people from the tyrant North Korean regime with outside information.

Unification minister says law banning sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets unconstitutional - 1


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