Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- South Korean civic groups and North Korean defectors plan to send balloons carrying propaganda leaflets across the border into the North tomorrow, an activity the government in Pyongyang has previously labeled an attempt to topple its communist regime.
The ten balloons will carry 200,000 leaflets criticizing North Korea for naming Kim Jong Un to succeed his father Kim Jong Il as its leader, Park Sang Hak, a leader of the Fighters For Free North Korea, a Seoul-based group with 23,000 members, said today by phone. His group and others plan to release the balloons in Imjingak, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Seoul.
The South Korean government has expressed “sympathy” to its northern neighbors over Kim’s death, Unification Minister Yu Woo Ik told reporters in Seoul today. Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin said he will reconsider a plan allowing religious groups to illuminate three towers adorned with lights in the shape of Christmas trees near the border later this week.
“We haven’t made a final decision on the matter, but it would seem to go against the current mood,” Minister Kim told lawmakers in Seoul in an emergency defense committee session of the National Assembly. Yu also suggested the plan be canceled for this year.
South Korea had planned to switch on the lights on Dec. 23.
North Korea has previously characterized such acts as provocations that could ignite a war, and warned that hostilities would bring “unpredictable catastrophic consequences.”
Last year, South Korea illuminated a tower hung with lights in the shape of a Christmas tree on a hill near the border for the first time since 2004.
--With assistance from Sangwon Yoon in Seoul. Editors: Brian Fowler, Brett Miller
To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at email@example.com Sangim Han in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Brinsley at email@example.com