Analysis

North Korean Threats Over Leaflet Balloons Reflect Wider Problems
Anti-Pyongyang activists, including North Korean defectors, float giant balloons carrying leaflets criticizing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un from Imjingak Park near the North-South border in Paju on September 9, 2012. South Korean police unsuccessfully attempted to stop an October 23 leaflet balloon launch on October 23 after North Korean threats to respond with military force. (KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)
October 25, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary

A balloon launch this week by South Korean activists that dropped 120,000 leaflets on North Korea promoting democracy sparked unusually harsh threats by the North Korean regime that probably reflect its economic problems and growing isolation. Pyongyang has engaged in similar rhetoric this year, including a threat to attack President Lee’s offices. The South Korean government wants to stop activities like leaflet balloon launches, believing they are unnecessary provocations of the North Korean government that could eventually lead to a military incident.

South Korean police tried unsuccessfully to stop this week's leaflet balloon launch. Like previous efforts, 1,000 $1 bills were attached to some of the flyers to encourage North Koreans to risk arrest or beatings by security personnel to pick them up.

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