An inter-Korean agreement signed in April 2018 is now effectively “dead,” a North Korean official said Saturday, insisting that Pyongyang will push ahead with plans to send thousands of propaganda leaflets into the South.
In a statement delivered by a spokesman for the North Korean ruling party’s United Front Department (UFD) — which oversees relations with the South — the official dismissed pleas from Seoul not to carry out the planned leaflet campaign, which the South said would violate a 2018 inter-Korean agreement.
Pyongyang, the official said, was “clearly aware” that leaflet scattering would breach that deal, signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27, 2018 at their first summit.
“We… do not have any intent to reconsider or change our plan at a time when the north-south relations have already been broken down,” they said, in a dispatch carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“The south Korean authorities must no longer talk about the agreement that has been already reduced to a dead document,” he continued, blaming Seoul’s failure to stop activists sending anti-regime leaflets into the North for worsening relations.
North Korean leaflets were in previous years regularly spotted on streets in and around Seoul, often carrying lurid propaganda condemning South Korean officials and praising the country’s nuclear program during periods of high tensions.
The leafleting came to an end in April 2018, following the two Koreas’ agreement to stop the “distribution of leaflets” into each other’s territories.
But following over a year of worsening relations between the two Koreas, top official Kim Yo Jong early this month condemned a May 31 balloon launch by the defector-run Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK), demanding Seoul crack down on the “human scum” involved.
Tensions have only mounted since then, prompting the resignation of South Korea’s unification minister and warnings from Seoul that it will “not endure” further insults or aggression from the North following Pyongyang’s decision to demolish an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong.
North Korean media on Friday revealed plans for a retaliatory leaflet-scattering campaign, with North Koreans from all walks of life reportedly preparing to send “leaflet bombs of justice” across the inter-Korean border in a bid to “terrorize” the South.
Footage from state media on Saturday revealed the leaflets will feature cartoons attacking South Korean President Moon Jae-in, as well as imagery of recent North Korean missile tests and indictments of prominent activists.
South Korea on Saturday urged the North not to go ahead with the plans, with the country’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) saying the North’s actions were “regrettable.”
“North Korea… must stop measures that further worsen the problem, and make effort for the peace on the Korean peninsula and development of South-North relations,” the statement said.
The North in response dismissed that as “absurd nonsense,” insisting that the planned campaign was retaliatory and justified given Seoul’s failure to stop activists sending leaflets of their own.
“We are so fed up with south Korea that we do not want to make any response nor exchange any coarse words with it, but we can not but ask it if they do not feel ashamed,” they said. “Given their own wrongdoings, how dare they utter such words as regret and violation?”
It is not clear when the leaflets will be sent, though North Korea has suggested they will go ahead as soon as soldiers are redeployed to front line areas.
Meanwhile, some activists in the South have pledged to continue sending leaflets and other goods to the North, despite the rise in tensions.
Saturday saw the FFNK group promise that it will go ahead with a planned launch next week, set to take place on the anniversary of the Korean War on June 25, whenever “the wind is right.”
An inter-Korean agreement signed in April 2018 is now effectively "dead," a North Korean official said Saturday, insisting that Pyongyang will push ahead with plans to send thousands of propaganda leaflets into the South.
In a statement delivered by a spokesman for the North Korean ruling party's United Front Department (UFD) -- which oversees relations with the South -- the official dismissed pleas from Seoul not to carry out the planned leaflet campaign, which the South said would violate a 2018 inter-Korean agreement.