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Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
Leaflets promoting North Korea’s brand new Pukguksong 2-type medium range surface-to-surface missile were found in Seoul on Monday, following several weeks of discoveries of similar leaflets likely distributed from or by the North.
The leaflet design, an example of which was collected on Monday morning near the Bukhansan National Park north of central Seoul, shows time-lapse photos of February’s test-launch of the new missile type, which North Korean state media subsequently said is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
“Another powerful means of nuclear attack that adds to the strong power of Juche Chosun!” reads one of the annotations on the flyer, which also described February’s test event as a “full success”.
“No one cannot prevent the powerful march of Songun(military-first) Chosun, an invincible military power and a rocket power,” says another of the captions.
The photos of North Korea’s new missile type are notable, coming after multiple rounds of leaflet discoveries around Seoul in recent months that have mainly been focused on political cartoons or text messages designed to promote the DPRK’s anniversaries and political accomplishments.
“Most South Koreans already have their minds made up about North Korea,” said Dr. Daniel Pinkston of Troy University about the latest leaflet discovery. “They are unlikely to be influenced by such leaflets, in my opinion.”
“Whichever view a South Korean might have, those leaflets can reinforce their views,” he continued. “Some will think North Korea remains hell bent on military expenditures at the expense of the people’s welfare, and that North Korea is a threat that must be dealt with sternly… Those who believe a softer line is in order will bolster their position.”
Leaflets likely distributed by balloon from North Korea or in person by sympathizers of the North living in Seoul have been found with almost weekly frequency in recent months.
This weekend, for example, local journalist Jason Strother found a number of leaflets calling for the execution of acting-President Hwang Kyo-ahn off a trail on Gwanksan, a mountain about 25km south of where the Pukguksong 2 missile leaflet was found.
“On one side of the flyer a cowering Park Geun-hye sits atop the Blue House as one of her staffers attempts to prevent some pretty mean looking guys from busting in,” Strother said of the design he picked up.
Other leaflets found in recent months included designs critical of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, sexually explicit cartoons of the South’s former President Park, as well as smaller-sized designs to promote late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s recent birthday anniversary, among other issues.
Pastor Eric Foley, CEO of the Voice of the Martyrs Korea, an NGO which regularly sends leaflets by balloon to the North, in February told NK News the ongoing campaign “may be the longest sustained balloon initiative on the part of the North Korean government in the past 10 years”.
NK News has in March found leaflets on at least three occasions – at least once per week – on Seoul’s Mapo Bridge, raising questions as to whether or not balloons could regularly deliver leaflets to such a small surface area in the center of the city.
Edited by Oliver Hotham