Sat, Feb 26, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Seoul drops leaflets about Mideast into North

Reuters, SEOUL

South Korean marines take part in military training in Gimpo, South Korea, yesterday. South Korea’s military has been dropping leaflets into North Korea about democracy protests in Egypt, a legislator said on Friday, but doubts lingered whether it would trigger calls for change in the tightly controlled country.

Photo: Reuters

South Korea’s military has been dropping leaflets into North Korea about democracy protests in Egypt and also sent food, medicines and radios for residents as part of a psychological campaign, a legislator said on yesterday.

The campaign was aimed at encouraging North Koreans to think about change, conservative South Korean parliament member Song Young-sun said.

The food and medicines were delivered in lightweight baskets tied to balloons with timers programmed to release the items above the target areas in the impoverished North, Song said in a statement.

South Korea’s defense ministry declined to confirm the move, citing its policy of not commenting on sensitive issues in its dealings with North Korea.

The food items bore a message that they were sent by the South Korean military and were safe for human consumption, but could be fed to livestock to test safety, Song said.

The leaflets also carried news of public protests in Libya against the country’s longtime leader, Song’s office said.

Analysts said the level of Pyongyang’s control over communications and movement of people is too tight to make it likely for North Koreans to rise up to the similar type of protests against their leaders.

South Korea’s military has resumed its campaign of speaking directly to North Korean residents after the North bombarded an island near a disputed sea border in November last year, killing four people including civilians.

Tensions on the Korean -Peninsula rose to the highest level in years after the artillery attack and the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel in March last year, but the two sides have since renewed a dialogue aimed at easing relations.

Their first attempt at talks broke down earlier this month, dealing a setback to plans to resume international disarmament talks with the North.

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