Activist floats balloons again despite North Korea’s warning

Sep 4, 2022, 9:21 AM | Updated: Sep 5, 2022, 1:17 am
In this photo provided by Fighters for a Free North Korea, Park Sang-hak holds a placard carrying p...

In this photo provided by Fighters for a Free North Korea, Park Sang-hak holds a placard carrying pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong in Ganghwa, South Korea Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. Park said he has again flown huge balloons carrying COVID-19 relief items and an anti-North Korea placard across the tense inter-Korean border, despite the North’s recent warning of a deadly attack over his activities. A part of letters read "Let's eradicate Kim Jong Un and (his sister) Kim Yo Jong." (Fighters for a Free North Korea via AP)

(Fighters for a Free North Korea via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — An activist said Monday he has again flown huge balloons carrying COVID-19 relief items and an anti-North Korea placard across the tense inter-Korean border, despite the North’s recent warning of a deadly attack over his activities.

Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector-turned-activist, said the 20 balloons launched from a South Korean border town on Sunday carried 20,000 masks and tens of thousands of Tylenol and Vitamin C tablets.

He said one of the balloons carried a placard with a message that reads “Let’s eradicate Kim Jong Un and (his sister) Kim Yo Jong,” along with their photos. He said no other propaganda statements were carried by the balloons.

For years, Park has floated helium-filled balloons with numerous, small anti-Pyongyang leaflets with harsh criticism of the Kim family’s authoritarian rule in North Korea. But he’s recently changed his cargo to masks and other health products amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Korea is deeply angered by such activism and has made the highly questionable claim that leaflets, banknotes and booklets flown from South Korea caused the country’s COVID-19 outbreak this year. Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the country’s leader, said last month that North Korea would respond by “wiping out the South Korean authorities” if “rubbish” continued to be flown from South Korea.

Days after Kim Yo Jong’s warning, a man wielding a steel pipe attacked Park at a rally in Seoul, breaking the activist’s arm.

Police said Monday the attacker was detained but didn’t immediately provide further details. Park said he believes North Korea has ordered pro-Pyongyang forces in South Korea to attack his group, a claim that cannot be independently confirmed.

In a failed assassination attempt in 2011, South Korean authorities captured a North Korean agent who tried to kill Park with a pen equipped with a poison needle.

North Korea is extremely sensitive to leafleting campaigns and other outside attempts to criticize the Kim family’s authoritarian rule of its people, most of whom have little access to foreign news. In 2014, North Korea fired at balloons flying toward its territory, and in 2020 it destroyed an empty South Korean-built liaison office in the North to express its anger over leafleting.

Last year, South Korea, under its previous liberal government that sought to improve ties with North Korea, enforced a contentious new law criminalizing civilian leafleting campaigns. Park still kept launching propaganda balloons, becoming the first person to be indicted over the law that punishes flying leaflets, USB drives or money into North Korea with up to three years in prison.

But Park’s trial has virtually been suspended after he filed a petition requesting the Constitutional Court to rule whether the new law is unconstitutional, according to Park’s lawyer, Lee Hun.

Opponents of the law say it’s sacrificing South Korea’s freedom of speech to seek improved ties with North Korea. But supporters say the law is aimed at avoiding unnecessarily provoking North Korea and promoting the safety of front-line South Korean residents.

Park faced separate police questioning over his balloon flights conducted before the law’s enforcement.

In March, he was handed a suspended fine of 3 million won ($2,190) for violating the law on donations. Prosecutors, citing a lack of evidence, had earlier decided not to indict him over other charges including an alleged violation of a law on inter-Korean cooperation. The suspended fine means Park doesn’t need to pay penalty unless he breaks law again and receives a prison sentence or bigger punishment during the one-year period, according to Lee, the lawyer.

Sunday’s balloon launches were Park’s fourth campaign to scatter medical relief items to North Korea. After his third launch in July, South Korean police said they were investigating his activities. On Monday, police weren’t immediately available for comment and Park said he hasn’t been contacted by police.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembl...
Associated Press

They said it: Leaders at the UN, in their own words

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Many leaders saying many things about many topics that matter to them, to their regions, to the world: That’s what the U.N. General Assembly invariably produces each year. And each year, certain voices dominate. Here, The Associated Press takes the opposite approach and spotlights some thoughts — delivered universally from the […]
16 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General...
Associated Press

Belarus foreign minister blames NATO, West for Ukraine war

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In the eyes of Belarus’ foreign minister, the root cause of the war in Ukraine dates back 30 years ago to the end of the Cold War. At that time, there was no official treaty — just a “gentlemen’s agreement” that opened a path for the West to secure its domination, […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

US spy satellite launched into orbit from California

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday. The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County. It was the last launch of […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

South Korea says North Korea test-fired missile toward sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military says North Korea has fired at least one unidentified ballistic missile toward its eastern sea. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday did not immediately say what type of missile it was or how far it flew. The launch came a day after South Korean officials […]
16 hours ago
This photo provided by Buckingham Palace on Saturday Sept. 24, 2022 shows the ledger stone at the K...
Associated Press

Palace reveals ledger stone at queen’s final resting place

LONDON (AP) — Buckingham Palace released a photo Saturday giving the first public glimpse of the new ledger stone installed at the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II. The image shows the hand-carved Belgian black marble slab with brass letter inlays set into the floor of King George VI Memorial Chapel, St. George’s Chapel, […]
16 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud addresses the 77th session of the...
Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s triumphant week reclaims the West’s embrace

NEW YORK (AP) — Saudi Arabia appears to be leaving behind the stream of negative coverage that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi elicited since 2018. The kingdom is once again being enthusiastically welcomed back into polite and powerful society, and it is no longer as frowned upon to seek Saudi investments or accept their favor. […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Activist floats balloons again despite North Korea’s warning