Conflict Over Balloon Launch Near North-South Korean Border

Conflict Between Group Releasing Anti-North Korea Leaflets and Locals, Progressive Group.

Article from Yonhap News:

Locals using tractors to block a conservative group from launching balloons carrying anti-North Korean leaflets.

Locals using tractors to block a conservative group from launching balloons carrying anti-North Korean leaflets.

Members of a progressive group raid a truck filled with leaflets, destroy balloons.

At the entrance to Imjingak (Gyeonggi-do, Paju-si) on the 25th, clashes arose between a conservative group releasing anti-North Korea leaflets, and members of a progressive group who were joined by Paju residents.

Members of the National Coalition of Anti-North Korea Leaflet Launching arrived on a rented bus at Imjinkak at 11:40 a.m. Just as they arrived, a group of 30 people, made up of Paju residents and members of a progressive group, blocked and surrounded the vehicle, strongly protesting the launch.

The protesters yelled, “We can’t farm because of you! Go back to where you came from!” at Choi Woo-won, who is a representative for the conservative group.

Young people ripping up balloons meant to carry anti-North Korea leaflets.

Young people ripping up balloons meant to carry anti-North Korea leaflets.

A small group of locals threw 5 eggs at Professor Choi.

Members of the conservative group chanted slogans such as, “Protect Korea! Eradicate North Korea sympathizing leftists!” and picketed.

At 11:20 in the Imjingak area, approximately 20 members of the progressive group covered their faces with bandanas and masks, raided a parked truck owned by a North Korean defectors’ organization, and stole the balloons and leaflets.

They went around Imjingak slashing the stolen balloons with knives, and scattering the leaflets along the roadside and nearby stream.

“We did this so they wouldn’t be able to release the anti-North Korean leaflets,” said someone from the group.

left-wing group destroying balloons and leaflets

“Our plan was to hold a legal event, but those North Korean spies attacked our truck,” insisted Professor Choi Woo-won

The police are buffing up security forces so as to intervene quickly in the case of physical altercations.

Comments from Naver:


It doesn’t matter if the leaflets are scattered or not, the people in that area are worried.


What is this nonsense about North Korean spies, that’s totally absurd!


Those guys don’t live there and just go over there. It just makes it so the people living there can’t get any work done. tsk tsk The conservative group are North Korean spies making life hard for South Koreans.


Why not go to some hill or an isolated island and release them? Why of all places, Imjingak? Was the point to make trouble with the people there by saying you would release the leaflets? What, are you afraid the North Koreans would aim their guns at your when you actually do that? tsk tsk


If you want to release those leaflets then get on a boat and go to an island on the border with North Korea and release them. There’s nothing to stop you so it’d be okay. You’d get missiles or bullets flying all around your boats on the way home and that’s when you’d understand how the people in Paju have been feeling. There’s a lot to say in your next lecture. Of course you should get back to your life.


Freedom has its limits. It can only be exercise so long as one is not hindering the freedom of another. Don’t take away their freedom to live in safety . It’s scary even for people who don’t live in that neighborhood.


The government has to mediate. Would they still avoid intervening if someone got hurt?


Are they spies who got orders from North Korea to start a war? Or just brainless Ilbe bugs?


If you want to release them just go to your own neighborhood. What the hell are you doing going to someone else’s neighborhood? You should make an apology the people of Imjingak immediately!


Fuckers. Innocent people could die. For you it’s just releasing leaflets, but the damage for the residents and the soldiers remains.


That professor is crazy. Doesn’t think about others at all. tsk tsk tsk


If war breaks out will those conservative group members come out and fight the North Koreans? You have to take responsibility for your actions.


Aren’t those guys the bad eggs in Korean society and spies against South Korea? What do they think of themselves? They don’t have the right to make innocent locals tremble in fear, and the entire country feel uneasy. They’ve got to get it together first.


For Christ’s sake, if they say to stop just don’t do it. Go to your own country and do it! We’ll take care of our own security. The security of the people of Yeoncheon is more important.


That person talks just like X. You’re basically saying those people got orders from North Korea. But they’re just working their asses off to stop it because they feel their lives are threatened. What an ungrateful professor!


Regardless of South or North, there shouln’t be anything that causes harm to the majority because of the minority.


Why don’t you move to Paju or Yeoncheon first before trying to release the leaflets? So irresponsible.


It’s a good idea to send them off at the Imjin River, since it’s close to North Korea. But the thing is, those conservative group members send off the leaflets and then go home proud of themselves, but for the people who have homes in the area, they’re walking on thin ice. It might be for a greater cause but it’s too selfish. The conservative group members aren’t the ones that will get hit by bullets, but the residents. Korean citizens.


Look at what they’ve said! What kind of orders from North Korea? They shouldn’t be afraid when North Koreans shoot right at their neighborhood? Dumbass motherfu****! What the hell kind of professor is this!


I live in Ilsan and even I am scared. I can’t imagine how it is for people in Paju. The information was third-rate, the government should’ve stepped in to stop it.

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  • vonskippy

    OMG – he’s sending leaflets to the North – EVERYONE PANIC.

    Geesh, grow a pair and get over it all ready.

    • RegisterToPost

      The problem here is that the North has aimed anti-aircraft fire at the balloons and the shrapnel from that has landed in South Korean territory. Imagine the headlines if that shrapnel hit civilians.

      • Linksys49

        No one cares! They’re selfish to release balloons from an area where they don’t reside putting ‘others’ at risk. So I agree with the netizens comments. These SK renegades have completely lost it! Obviously their plan was not clearly thought out, which is pretty dumb.

  • Small twon

    Most balloon ends in the international water(and became another garbage in the sea) or returned SK ,very small percentage of balloon ends up NK. If so called “conservative group” really wanna send the balloon to NK, they would rent a boat and go to the international parts of the yellow sea, then all balloon ends up inner parts of NK but they wouldn’t do it because that means they will be out of protection of SK and really putting their neck in the line, not to mention they will be late for their nice comfortable dinner and press conference.

    on the other hand , local people who have to live there after those “conservative groups” went home… them , it really is the matter of their family’s safety.
    who can blame them ?

    ans so called “progressive group”, shame on you, you stupid spoiled brats with high tech mountain gear and 200 dollar imported New Balance shoes. Why don’t you crawl back to your mommy and ask common sense tutoring ?

    I understand why some N.Koreans refugee in SK wanna do it and have nothing but respect for their determination.

  • commander

    Balloon Launching Campaign

    Leaflets contained in the balloons help brainwashed North Korean people to
    get disillusioned with the impoverished state, thus quickening the North’s collapse and increasing the chances of reunification.

    The North Korean vehement protest against balloon sending campaign is clear evidence that the totalitarian regime finds it to be corrosive to the regime stability.

    Leaflets have no impact as many North Koreans are already aware that the South is a much more flourished country while their country is a failed country.

    Vigorous opposition from the North to the balloon propaganda can be blamed for the fact that its political system where Kim Jung-eun has a god-like presence can’t acquiesce in the dispatch of leaflets defaming its “Surpreme Leader.”

    And the propaganda campaign led by North Korean defectors risks putting South Korean residents near demilitarized line at danger. North Korea opened fire at the balloons released from the South Korea, with some gun shots landing in border village in Paju leading to villagers evacuation.

    This means the balloon campaign threatens the lives for the sake of what critics describe as little impact except aroused anger from North Korea.

    Critics also argue that the balloon campaign brought to an end the prospect of high-level inter-Korean talks, for which the senior delegation from the North Korea toward the end of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games made overtures to the South Korean government with the proviso of stopping the balloon dispatch.

    The South Korean government spurned its demand saying that the constitutional freedom of expression in the South Korea offer the government no authority to thwart the balloon launching campaign.


    After experts, including the US Force Korea commander, assessed the North to have succeeded in making nuclear warheads small enough to be tipped on missiles, South Korea decided to delay taking over wartime operational control (OPCON) from the United States, making her political base of conservatives joyous while drawing huge criticism from liberal critics.

    • Chucky3176

      “Critics also argue that the balloon campaign brought to an end the prospect of high-level inter-Korean talks”

      It was North Korea who started the talks, then broke off the talks, using the balloon as an excuse. Does anybody think you can talk and negotiate with this regime? It was another designed plan by North Korea all along, to turn this into another issue and conflict in South Korea to turn it into societal turmoil. We’ve seen this before many times, during the electoral rules of two Progressive presidents in the early to mid 2000’s, when North Korea manipulated the issue of South Korean economic aid to North Korea and nuclear weapons development by North Korea – turning it into a massive social conflict. And North Korea is once again playing that game, dangling a carrot in front of South Korea’s face (the peace talks), then snatching it away with an angry retort that South Korea isn’t being fair – causing the South Korean Progressives to get angry not at the North Koreans, but at those South Koreans who are seen as the culprits for ruining the talks. The North Korean regime does a fine job as usual, dividing the South Korean society into two. How many times do we have to see this to see what’s really going on here?

      • commander

        No one know for sure whether North Korea has the genuine intention to hold a high-level dialogue with South Korea, except their supreme leader Kim Jung un.

        So, your suspicion that North Korea willfully scuttled its overtures using balloon propaganda campaign as an expedient excuse sounds a bit reasonable.

        But, international relations is not an area where one proves the other is right or wrong.

        The bottom line for inter-Korean ties is that South Korea should engage North Korea into walking toward denuclearization and market economy.

        Continuous calls for North Korea to first show sincere attitudes as a precondition to resume any talks will give Pyongyang more time to evolve its nuclear and missile technology, thus altering the status quo in defense on the Korean Peninsular and making the South Korea more vulnerable to nuclear threats from the North.

        Now is the time to drag North Korea out of its isolation into multilateral talks, a role Seoul should more actively take on at a time when the United States are consumed by other foreign policy priorities like Islamic State in the Middle East, and Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and the White House is pulling itself from its crushing defeat in the Nov. 4th midterm elections.

        Four years of hard line policy toward North Korea during the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration pursued yielded no noticeable changes in North Korea.

        Without immediate engagement, North Korea will up the ante by producing evolved nuclear arms. The best course of action for now is to freeze the North’s nuclear program with negotiations, though dismantling it in an verifiable and irreversible way will be a much harder challenge for South Korea’s diplomacy.

        President Park Geun-hye said when she was elected to the Blue House that she could combine merits both from engagement policy and from hawkish approach to formulate an evolved policy toward North Korea, but she appears to fail to deliver on her promise.

      • KCdude

        Hold on there, son, you sound like you’re from Ilbe (일베) or something.

        I used to passionately criticize North Korea. I found out later that it is very pointless. North Korea is like a “4th dimensional (4차원)” entity. So it’s pointless to criticize North Korea at the end.

        • David

          It is only pointless if your intention is to change NK by criticizing them. Of course they are not going to change, but that is not the intention of 99% of critics. Most people (including myself) want to inform and educate those who are NOT in NK about what sort of country it is like. Because believe it or not, even in 2014, many people around the world do not know (or care) about the abuses to its own people and the danger it poses to the rest of the world (because of so many reasons such as counterfeiting of currency, human trafficking, sales of drugs, state sponsored cyber terrorism, state support of regular terrorism, exportation of nuclear technology etc…).

          • Guest

            Ahhhh.. The world knows! You can stop now.

          • David

            What ridiculous and cowardly answer.

      • David

        Remember, this is the country who for DECADES used to break off high level talks at the last minute because the size of the flags at the conference tables where not to their liking. Anybody who has any trust in anything the representatives of the leader of this country says is delusional. They have been doing this for a long long time and have not changed their stripes.

  • Chucky3176

    If leaflets have no impact as many North Koreans, then why is North Korea threatening and huffing and puffing? If it had no impact, North Korea would not make a big deal. Many of those balloon launchers are North Korean defectors themselves who say that the balloons do work, because they experienced themselves. The people who are against this are selfish assholes that only think about themselves, totally forgetting about the suffering of North Korean people. Unfortunately, a big chunk of South Koreans are like this. They just don’t care about North Koreans, only themselves. Many North Korean defectors in South Korea are dismayed and appalled at the ignorance and apathy found in South Korea, about the human rights violations rivalling the German Nazi Holocaust going on just 35 miles up north. Even if the balloons don’t work, they should still go up, as a moral obligation. The last thing South Korea should do is to give into North Korean threats. When the North Korea collapses and there is finally Korean unifications, these useful idiots who are against the balloon launch should be the first ones to see the human carnage in North Korea, and they should be asked, what they did while all this was going on. What a shameful attitude.

    • Doge Wallace

      You really need to clear out all the garbage in your head that you’ve been hearing about the DPRK. Not all is as it seems.

      • Ruaraidh

        It’s a veritable socialist paradise. I mean they certainly don’t share our problems with obesity, and their cutting edge 1950s rocket technology is pretty cool too,

        • David

          I am feeling a little chubby and was thinking about going on the NK diet plan, I heard you can lose 100 KG in 8 weeks.

    • KCdude

      Maybe we have learned something wrong for all these years. What if North Korea is the real “good guy”?

    • 금정산

      I would say the leaflets have minimal impact but because the regime is extremely tough on keeping information out, it becomes a big issue. Also sending balloons over the border is can be considered an aggressive act and intrusion.

      The human rights abuses in the DPRK are shocking and should be condemned. But I don’t think it rivals the Holocaust where 11 million people were killed in genocide and purification. Instead I think it rivals the suicide rate in the South.

      I think the South should first try to secure peace with the North. These theatrical balloon shows make peace one step less attainable. But I’m not sure if the South really wants peace – they did everything to blame the DPRK for the Cheonan and keep provoking the DPRK with invasion drills.

      • David

        yea, balloons are bad, but when NK sends some a few hundred artillery shells over, they always deliver them express mail.

        • 금정산

          As does the South.

    • David

      I am really baffled by the anger and incredible ignorance of the people leaving comments. Has NK been coming over the border in Paju and shooting people because of the balloons? Has this been kept out of the paper? Why are so many netizens condemning something that helps their fellow Koreans in the north? I know NK always gets angry about this, so what? Since when has it been South Korea’s job to make sure the north stays happy? The north used to (don’t know if they still do) routinely cross the border and kidnap people to the north, I don’t remember seeing these people protesting THAT. This is simply sticking their heads in the sand and hoping NK will ignore them. That is why they don’t want to upset the apple cart.

      • Chucky3176

        It disgusts me beyond what I could describe. The only reasons I can come up with is the syndrome that you see when someone’s taken hostage, and those hostages take up the cause of their own captives. We’ve had this same debate for the last 20 years, do we given into North Korea’s blackmails to make them happy and coax them to behave in civilized manner, or do we stand up to them? The former had been tried and was proven it didn’t work, when North Korea was given tens of billions of dollars of economic aid from 1998 to 2008, but it still ended up with North Korea developing nuclear missiles, and its human rights record atrocious as ever.

        • David

          This is called Stockholm Syndrome.

    • bultak23

      this is one of the few times i agree with chucky.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    Meanwhile in North Korea:

    Guard 1: “What the hell are they doing over there?”
    Guard 2: “Unless they are crossing the border to give me a cigarette, I don’t care.”

  • 금정산

    This is more of a staged protest than sending information into the DPRK. There is little success with these balloons, and a much greater success with smuggling USB sticks through China. If the balloonies wanted real results, they would give currency and USB sticks to the boarder crossers to distribute.

    This is one big show. The balloons have minimal effect and seldom reach citizens far from the DMZ. These balloonies even launch their balloons when the winds blow the other way. Why? Their audience is in South Korean politics. These people want hard-line policy for dealing with the DPRK (because look how evil they are!) and reunification through the collapse of the regime.

    ‘Collapse’ implies a sudden fall. I think the regime will slowly lose power as the citizens get more information, and more importantly, when citizens aren’t impoverishly dependent on the regime for food. This is why I think sanctions work in favour of the regime.

    • Chucky3176

      All disproven theories by those who know nothing about how these operations get carried out. The balloons carry GPS, and they are tracked where they fall and when they are picked up. Also tons of testimonials from North Korean defectors what this does to North Korean morale – once again all disregarded by those in South Korea who don’t like this inconvenient truth. You deniers and naysayers are arguing with the North Korean defectors how things are in North Korea about their own society they came from. It makes you look pathetic.

      • 금정산

        I’m not at all disregarding what the defectors say. I’m saying these balloons have little real impact and success. Very few defectors will say they have seen the materials disseminated by these holy descending gifts of grace. However many defectors will talk about the SK dramas and films which make it in via the Yalu River. DPRK citizens are brought up to reject any propaganda from the South, but it is much more difficult to deny what they see in videos. So why send USB sticks via balloons when more can be spread via the Yalu River? Because it is more dramatic and smugglers don’t make enough money from high-risk, unwanted bibles.

        I’m happy to change my mind about the effectiveness of these expensive balloons when I see enough reach far into the North. But based on this link, it doesn’t appear very successfull. This confirms my point that they land near the border and seldom reach the citizens.

        • Chucky3176

          On the contrary. Your link clearly shows that the balloons do work. It landed one mile away from a village (you don’t want it to land in the middle of the village where the NK police are active). That gives plenty of time for local villagers and surrounding inhabitants who forage for food and firewood to get to the balloons, away from peering eyes.

          • 금정산

            You know that I never said the balloons don’t work. I said they have minimal impact. The link shows that a single balloon landed near some villages. That shows minimal impact.

            This balloon landed in that area by chance. Come to think of it, the sparsely populated areas near the DMZ means the odds are against the balloons landing within a small radius of residents. It’s not like anyone can control these balloons or predict with any certainty where they will land; it’s random,

          • Chucky3176

            Minimal impact is far better than no impact. You and others who advocate doing nothing for North Korean people, still hasn’t shown any proof that this is not working, other then coming up with lame unprovable personal conjectures as to what happens to those balloons. When it has clearly been shown by the GPS, the cameras, and the testimonials of North Korean defectors themselves who are organizing these launches, that these balloons are indeed having a big impact (that’s why they insist launching those balloons because they themselves have seen that they work).

            Open your eyes, man. Just closing them and ignoring the suffering of your fellow Koreans, isn’t going to make the problem go away.

          • 금정산

            I’m not advocating doing nothing. I’m opposed to the balloon launches because it causes tension between North and South and makes peace less attainable.

            This is ultimately a military conflict between nations. I think the best way to help NK citizens is to defuse the military tension and bring peace. Then the DPRK can develop without spending most of its budget on the military. Military spending is the big reason why fellow Koreans are suffering.

            I don’t think the balloons work as much as the covert methods I’ve mentioned. The problem with making a big show out of these balloons is it puts the responsibility onto the ROK government to stop them. The government does little and answers with a big, fat lie saying “it is unconstitutional to restrict the freedom of speech”. This then makes it a tension between nations at war.

            Many are defectors, but this doesn’t prove the effectiveness. The choice to defect comes from a combination of influences – testimonies of defection, an understanding of what life is really like in the South and knowledge of the process. I say all of this is more effectively and less provocatively distributed via Yalu smugglers.

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