Propaganda leaflets likely sent by balloon from North Korea were once again found in central Seoul on Saturday, one of which includes a caricature depiction of U.S. President Donald J. Trump for the first time.
The leaflets, which also promoted Kim Jong Il’s February 16 birthday and drew attention to the “traitors” comprising key political positions in South Korea, were found blowing in the wind but in good condition on Seoul’s Mapo Bridge by NK News on Saturday afternoon, suggesting their recent arrival.
The leaflet featuring Trump criticized South Korean politicians for being subservient to the U.S. and Japan, with caretaker President Hwang Kyo-ahn pictured saying “the ROK-U.S. alliance comes first, push for THAAD deployment, (then) agreement on the Korean comfort women (issue).”
Notably, the inclusion of Trump on the design appears to be the first time North Korean propagandists have taken aim at the new U.S. president, with both official and semi-official state media output all avoiding direct criticism of him until now.
The other side of the Trump flier shows key South Korean politicians and ministers pictured in a “traitor’s gallow” and calls for their immediate execution. Upon the front is the text “Popular Sentiment Action Group,” an entity which does not appear to exist in South Korea.
Other leaflets found on the bridge publicize Kim Jong Il’s birthday (February 16) and tell South Koreans: “Be proud! The Koreans’ most important holiday is February 16th!”
Another message says that Kim Jong Il’s “name and image will forever be remembered in the hearts of South Koreans.”
The arrival of the leaflets marks the continuation of a steady North Korean campaign to bombard Seoul with propaganda since November last year. Since the new year alone, news articles that included the word “leaflet” were published on South Korean sites approximately 50 times, data from Naver.com shows.
The leaflets were likely distributed by air from North Korea, using high-altitude balloons that burst to distribute cargo across a wide ranging part of the city.
“Conditions have been good for a launch from southwestern North Korea to Seoul,”said Pastor Eric Foley, CEO of the Voice of the Martyrs Korea, an organization which uses computer modeling and GPS technology to plan its own balloon launches into the North.
“This launch, like all the previous ones, appears to originate near Yonan.”
Foley said that the launches “suggest a coordinated balloon strategy probably a lot like our own: Target an area (in this case, Seoul); watch the weather; launch whenever conditions enable you to reach that area.
“Untrained observers tend to look at events like these and say, “Kim Jong Un is desperate, crazy, paranoid, frightened.” But each of these actions—the missile launch, the assassination, and the flyer launches reflect careful planning, coordination, and control,” he said.
And that means that “these are not desperate, seat-of-the-pants tantrums,” he said. “This is North Korea firing on all cylinders and calling its shots. As always, it has an end in mind, and it is achieving it strategically through multiple carefully-planned initiatives.”
South Korean law states that those who find leaflets should report the incident to the police so that local authorities can analyze the materials.
JH Ahn contributed to this report
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