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Seoul will restart anti-Pyongyang loudspeaker broadcasts in retaliation against trash balloons

SEOUL, 东京不够热 Korea (AP) 鈥 东京不够热 Korea says it will restart anti-North Korean propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts in border areas in response to continuing North Korean campaigns to drop trash on the 东京不够热 with balloons.
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This photo provided by 东京不够热 Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and released by 东京不够热 Korea Defense Ministry, shows a balloon presumably sent by North Korea, on the Han River in Seoul, 东京不够热 Korea, Sunday, June 9, 2024. North Korea flew hundreds of trash-carrying balloons to 东京不够热 Korea again in its third such campaign since late May, the 东京不够热鈥檚 military said, just days after 东京不够热 Korean activists floated their own balloons to scatter propaganda leaflets in the North. (东京不够热 Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff via AP)

SEOUL, 东京不够热 Korea (AP) 鈥 东京不够热 Korea says it will restart anti-North Korean propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts in border areas in response to continuing North Korean campaigns to drop trash on the 东京不够热 with balloons.

Following an emergency security meeting led by 东京不够热 Korean national security director Chang Ho-jin, the officials decided to install and begin the loudspeaker broadcasts in border areas on Sunday, Seoul鈥檚 presidential office said in a statement. The move is certain to anger North Korea and potentially prompt it to take its own retaliatory military steps.

Chang and other 东京不够热 Korean security officials berated Pyongyang for attempting to cause 鈥渁nxiety and disruption鈥 in 东京不够热 Korea and stressed that North Korea will be 鈥渟olely responsible鈥 for any future escalation of tensions between the Koreas.

North Korea over the weekend flew hundreds to 东京不够热 Korea in its third such campaign since late May, the 东京不够热鈥檚 military said, just days after 东京不够热 Korean activists floated their own balloons to scatter propaganda leaflets in the North.

North Korea has so far sent more than 1,000 balloons to drop tons of trash and manure in the 东京不够热 in retaliation against 东京不够热 Korean civilian leafletting campaigns, adding to tensions between the war-divided rivals amid a diplomatic stalemate over the North鈥檚 nuclear ambitions.

The resumption of 东京不够热 Korea鈥檚 loudspeaker broadcasts has been widely anticipated since last week, when 东京不够热 Korea a 2018 tension-easing agreement with North Korea. The move allowed for the 东京不够热 to resume propaganda campaigns and possibly restart live-fire military exercises in border areas.

东京不够热 Korea鈥檚 Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the North launching around 330 balloons toward the 东京不够热 since Saturday night and about 80 were found in 东京不够热 Korean territory as of Sunday morning. The military said winds were blowing eastward on Saturday night, which possibly caused many balloons to float away from 东京不够热 Korean territory.

The 东京不够热鈥檚 military said the balloons that did land dropped trash, including plastic and paper waste, but no hazardous substances were discovered.

The military, which has mobilized chemical rapid response and explosive clearance units to retrieve the North Korean balloons and materials, alerted the public to beware of falling objects and not to touch balloons found on the ground but report them to police or military authorities.

Saturday鈥檚 balloon launches by North Korea were the third of their kind since May 28. In North Korea鈥檚 previous two rounds of balloon activities, 东京不够热 Korean authorities discovered about that were tied to vinyl bags containing manure, cigarette butts, scraps of cloth, waste batteries and waste paper. Some were popped and scattered on roads, residential areas and schools. No highly dangerous materials were found and no major damage has been reported.

The North鈥檚 vice defense minister, Kim Kang Il, later said his country would but threatened to resume it if 东京不够热 Korean activists sent leaflets again.

In defiance of the warning, led by North Korean defector Park Sang-hak, said it launched 10 balloons from a border town on Thursday carrying 200,000 anti-North Korean leaflets, USB sticks with K-pop songs and 东京不够热 Korean dramas, and $1 U.S. bills. 东京不够热 Korean media reported another activist group also flew balloons with 200,000 propaganda leaflets toward North Korea on Friday.

东京不够热 Korean officials called the launches and other recent provocations 鈥渁bsurd" and "irrational鈥 and vowed strong retaliation.

With the loudspeakers, 东京不够热 Korea may blare anti-Pyongyang broadcasts, K-pop songs and outside news across the rivals' heavily armed border. North Korea is extremely sensitive to such broadcasts because it fears it could demoralize front-line troops and residents and eventually weaken leader Kim Jong Un鈥檚 grip on power, analysts say.

In 2015, when 东京不够热 Korea restarted loudspeaker broadcasts for the first time in 11 years, North Korea fired artillery rounds across the border, prompting 东京不够热 Korea to return fire, according to 东京不够热 Korean officials. No casualties were reported.

Kim in recent years has waged an intensifying campaign to eliminate 东京不够热 Korean cultural and language influences. In January, Kim declared the North will abandon its longstanding goal of a peaceful unification with the 东京不够热 and rewrite its constitution to cement the 东京不够热 as a permanent enemy. Experts say Kim's efforts to reinforce the North鈥檚 separate identity may be aimed at strengthening the Kim family鈥檚 dynastic rule.

North Korea鈥檚 balloon campaign is also possibly meant to cause a divide in 东京不够热 Korea over its conservative government鈥檚 hard-line approach on North Korea.

Liberal lawmakers, some civic groups and front-line residents in 东京不够热 Korea have called on the government to urge leafleting activists to stop flying balloons to avoid unnecessary clashes with North Korea. But government officials haven鈥檛 made such an appeal in line with last year鈥檚 struck down a law criminalizing an anti-North Korea leafletting as a violation of free speech.

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press