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South Korea plans to nullify peace deal to punish North Korea over trash-carrying balloons

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Monday it would suspend a rapprochement deal with North Korea to punish it for its waste-carrying balloon launches, even after the North said he would. stop his balloon campaign.

For several days, North Korea stole hundreds of balloons to throw garbage and manure on South Korea in angry reaction to previous South Korean civilian leafleting campaigns. On Sunday, South Korea said it would take “unbearable” retaliatory measures in response, before North Korea abruptly announced it would stop. flying balloons across the border.

On Monday, South Korea’s presidential national security council announced it had decided to suspend a 2018 inter-Korean agreement aimed at easing frontline animosities until mutual trust between the two Koreas is restored, according to the presidential office.

The Security Council said the suspension would allow South Korea to resume military exercises near the border with North Korea and respond effectively and immediately to North Korea’s provocations. He said a proposal on the suspension would be presented to the Council of Ministers for approval on Tuesday.

Observers say South Korea needs the deal’s suspension to resume airing anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, K-pop songs and outside news broadcast over border loudspeakers. They say such broadcasts have already had detrimental effects in the tightly controlled North, where most of its 26 million people have no official access to foreign information.

The 2018 agreement, reached during a brief period of reconciliation between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, requires the Koreas to cease all hostile acts against each other , including propaganda broadcasts and leaflet distribution campaigns.

But the agreement does not clearly state that the distribution of leaflets for civilian purposes should also be prohibited. It allowed South Korean activists continue to fly balloons to drop anti-Pyongyang leaflets, USB drives containing South Korean dramas and world news, and US dollars to North Korea. Enraged by such leafleting campaigns, North Korea has already shot balloons and destroyed an unoccupied South Korean-built inter-Korean liaison office in the North.

The 2018 deal is already underway risks collapsing. Tensions soared after North Korea’s launch of a spy satellite last November prompted both Koreas to take action in violation of the agreement: South Korea resumed aerial surveillance of the front line and North Korea has reestablished border guard posts.

Since last Tuesday, around 1,000 North Korean balloons carrying manure, cigarette butts, scraps of fabric and waste paper have been discovered in various regions of South Korea. No dangerous substances were found, according to the South Korean military.

On Sunday evening, Kim Kang Il, North Korea’s vice defense minister, said the North would end its balloon campaign because it left the South Koreans with “enough experience to understand to what extent they feel unpleasant.” He said North Korea would fly balloons again if South Korean militants resume their own balloon activities.

Experts say North Korea’s balloon campaign, believed to be the first of its kind in seven years, aims to spark a division in South Korea over the current conservative government’s hardline policies toward the North. Since 2022, North Korea has significantly ramped up its weapons testing in what analysts call an attempt to strengthen its nuclear capability and increase its influence in future diplomacy with the United States.

News Source : apnews.com
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