Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Thursday it was considering legislative measures to ban the contentious anti-Pyongyang leaflet campaign, just hours after North Korea threatened to scrap a bilateral military pact, saying the campaign raises hostilities prohibited by their prior agreement.
“We were already looking into ways to prevent tension hikes at the border. Plans for legislative change had been under way,” Unification Ministry spokesperson, Yoh Sang-key said, adding that leaflets returned here after they were launched by balloon, causing trouble for nearby residents.
North Korea earlier took issue with the latest leaflet campaign that a defector-run civic group in Seoul organized Sunday, with Kim Yo-jong, younger sister and personal messenger of leader Kim Jong-un, threatening to pull back from the bilateral military accord if Seoul did not halt the launches.
“Without appropriate action, the South should brace for shutdowns of the Kaesong industrial park or the liaison office, just months after the destruction of Kumgangsan resort facilities,” the deputy chief of Pyongyang’s propaganda affairs said in a statement carried by the state-run newspaper.
Some experts see Pyongyang’s threat as a sign of the North returning to a belligerent policy toward the South.
“The message here is clear. The North has made official its policy change and would now seek more aggressive approaches in dealings with the South,” said Hong Min, director of the North Korean division at the Korea Institute for National Unification, suggesting Pyongyang was prepared to blame Seoul for any strain to come in their relations.
Other experts agreed, with one North Korean specialist saying Pyongyang was searching out faults to find with Seoul.
“The North is building a cause so that it could lash out back at the South later if Seoul fails now to deliver on Pyongyang’s demands,” Shin Jong-woo, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, told The Korea Herald.
South Korea’s presidential office said the Panmunjom Declaration and military accord signed at the first and third inter-Korean summits in 2018, respectively, should be upheld, with one senior official saying, “The leaflet campaign does nothing good.”
By Choi Si-young (email@example.com