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South Korea urges North not to send leaflets amid high tensions

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Monday urged North Korea to scrap a plan to launch propaganda leaflets across the border, after the North said it’s ready to float 12 million leaflets in what would be the largest such psychological campaign against its southern rival.

Animosities on the Korean Peninsula rose sharply last week, after North Korea destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office on its territory in anger over South Korean civilian leafleting against it. North Korea said it will fly propaganda leaflets and take other steps to nullify 2018 deals that were meant to ease military tensions at the border.

Yoh Sangkey, a spokesman at Seoul’s Unification Ministry, told reporters that North Korea must suspend its plan to send anti-Seoul leaflets that “are not helpful to South-North (Korea) relations at all.”

Earlier Monday, North Korea said it had manufactured 12 million propaganda leaflets to be floated toward South Korea aboard 3,000 balloons and other unspecified delivery equipment.

“Our plan of distributing the leaflets against the enemy is an eruption of the unquenchable anger of all the people and the whole society,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. “The time for retaliatory punishment is drawing near.”

Some observers say ongoing weather conditions aren’t favorable for North Korea to fly balloons into the South so it may use drones to deliver the leaflets. They say this could trigger clashes between the Koreas because South Korea must respond to incoming drones to its territory.

A South Korean activist recently said he would also drop about a million leaflets over the border around Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 Korean War. South Korean officials have said they’ll ban civilian activists from launching balloons toward North Korea.

Experts say North Korea is likely focusing on the South Korean civilian leafleting to boost its internal unity and apply more pressures on Seoul and Washington amid stalled nuclear diplomacy.

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