North Korea sends 150 poop, propaganda-loaded balloons to South Korea – Interesting Engineering

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The incident occurred just a day after a North Korean rocket carrying a military satellite exploded shortly after liftoff.

Updated: May 29, 2024 04:35 AM EST

North Korea sends 150 poop- and propaganda-loaded balloons to South Korea

Representational image of a military balloon

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In a bizarre turn of events, South Korea has warned its residents on the border with North Korea to be mindful of hot air balloons carrying unwanted items entering its territory.

A South Korean news agency reports that over 150 balloons, some still airborne, were spotted carrying objects, including what appeared to be trash and excrement.

According to the Yonhap report, some of the balloons had traveled great distances, even reaching the southeastern province of South Gyeongsang.

Both nations have reported using such balloons to further their propaganda campaigns since the Korean War in the 1950s.

It is important to note that the incident occurred just a day after a North Korean rocket carrying a military satellite exploded shortly after liftoff from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on the country’s northwest coast.

Border tensions escalate

A statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported that the fallen balloons seemed to be carrying various types of rubbish, including plastic bottles, batteries, shoe parts, and what is believed to be manure.

“These acts by North Korea clearly violate international law and seriously threaten our people’s safety. (We) sternly warn North Korea to stop its inhumane and vulgar act immediately,” said the JCS, as reported by Yohan.

The South Korean military has asked people to refrain from touching the items and to report such sightings to the concerned officials.

According to the official, this incident marked the largest number of North Korean balloons sent into the South, surpassing previous instances between 2016 and 2018.

The recent incident occurred just days after North Korea announced plans to retaliate against the “frequent scattering of leaflets and other rubbish” in border areas by South Korean activists.

“Mounds of wastepaper and filth will soon be scattered over the border areas and the interior of the ROK, and it will directly experience how much effort is required to remove them,” said Kim Kang Il, North Korea’s vice-minister of defense, in a statement to state media on Sunday, reports the BBC.

ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea. The northern section of Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, is known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK.

History of conflict

The tensions have become commonplace after the Korean War, which was a conflict between DPRK (North Korea) and the ROK (South Korea), resulting in at least 2.5 million deaths. The war escalated to international proportions in June 1950 when North Korea, supported by the Soviet Union, invaded the South.

The United Nations, with the United States as the principal participant, intervened on behalf of South Korea, while the People’s Republic of China aided North Korea. After over a million combat casualties on both sides, the fighting ended in July 1953, leaving Korea divided into two hostile states.

Subsequent negotiations in 1954 failed to produce any further agreement, and the front line has since been accepted as the de facto boundary between North and South Korea.

According to the Guardian, in recent times, South Korean activists and North Korean defectors have used balloons to send various materials to their neighboring countries.

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These materials include leaflets criticizing the regime and calling for the overthrow of the Kim dynasty, which has ruled the country for decades. They have also sent USB memory sticks loaded with K-pop music videos, banned in North Korea.

“These kinds of grey zone tactics are more difficult to counter and hold less risk of uncontrollable military escalation, even if they’re horrid for the civilians who are ultimately targeted,” Peter Ward, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute, told Reuters.

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Jijo Malayil Jijo is an automotive and business journalist based in India. Armed with a BA in History (Honors) from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and a PG diploma in Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi, he has worked for news agencies, national newspapers, and automotive magazines. In his spare time, he likes to go off-roading, engage in political discourse, travel, and teach languages.

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