South Korean activists launched thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets and Wikipedia-loaded USB keys across the border yesterday, despite past North Korean threats to shell the “human scum” involved.
Packages floated over the heavily militarized border by balloon also contained 1,000 US$1 bills and DVDs detailing human rights abuses in the North.
“There is clearly enormous hunger for outside information in North Korea,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the US-based Human Rights Foundation, which supported the event in the border town of Paju.
“USB keys are one of the most powerful tools, because they’re small, can be hidden and shared easily, and carry massive amounts of data,” he said.
Each of the 1,500 USB flash drives launched yesterday had been loaded with the Korean-language version of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
The 500,000 anti-North leaflets were also accompanied by about 50 tiny transistor radios.
Yesterday’s balloon launch was organized by a North Korean defector group that is particularly vocal in its criticisms of Pyongyang.
“This is aimed at letting North Korean people know about [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un’s brutality ... and deliver a message to North Koreans that now is time for them to rise up and finish the dictatorship,” group leader Park Sang-hak said.
South Korean police have enforced bans on similar launches in the past, citing concerns from local residents about possible North Korean retaliation.
Three of the 20 balloon packages were taken the wrong way by the wind, and were recovered by hikers in a park near Seoul.