Balloons full of poop launched over South Korea needed Kim Jong-un’s direct approval

From the night of 28th May, North Korean Balloons filled with trash were found in all areas of South Korea. South Korean government is sending alert messages to citizens regarding it. (Image / KCNA, ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff)

With North Korea launching balloons full of excrement into South Korea in recent days, the regime seems to be pretending it doesn’t have the power to stop its people from expressing their real feelings.

The balloons were retaliation against South Korea, where activists recently resumed sending balloons into the North. 

The activists argue that North Koreans have a right to know about South Korea as it really is. Their balloons contain information and USBs with K-pop and other content. The previous government of Moon Jae-in banned the practice after North Korea complained, but the constitutional court last year ruled this a violation of free speech.

The North considers the balloons to be a serious challenge to its ability to indoctrinate and control its people. 

Retaliation with waste is a distinct change from threatening war. But then the regime made itself look stupid by mocking democracy and pretending it wasn’t able to stop its citizens from expressing themselves.

“The government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea considers the dissemination of leaflets against South Korea as an expression of our people’s freedom of speech and a guarantee of the South Korean people’s right to know,” said Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister Kim Yo-jong, the day after the first barrage on May 28. “There are limitations to immediately stopping it. We respectfully ask for the understanding of the South Korean government.”

This would be amusing if the regime saying it actually respected its citizens rights. In fact, not only do the balloons sent south require the direct approval of Kim Jong-un. But so do the contents.

This was confirmed by a former official of the Central Committee’s 813 Liaison Office in an interview. Jeon, 52, who entered South Korea in 2018, revealed that broadcasts and leaflets sent to South Korea need Kim’s approval down to the smallest detail. 

The printworks where the anti-South leaflets are produced consist of two main buildings, Jeon said. The building on the right from the main gate is where the journalists write scripts for broadcasts and the leaflets. They work in strict secrecy. 

The building on the left from the main gate is the publishing house. He said that while he was there, the copy created by the journalists was not sent to the publishing house via a computer network but was delivered in an old-fashioned way.

“The journalists worked on the third floor, and the publishing house was on the first floor of the other building,” he said. “The scripts and designs were placed in special cans, which were then hung on a rope and lowered down to the publishing house. As you can imagine, I was quite surprised when I first worked there.”

So, is this really a civilian-led initiative as Kim Yo-jong claims?

“There are ten locations along the Military Demarcation Line where the North Korean regime sends balloons filled with leaflets,” said a military intelligence official, referring to the line that separates the two halves of the DMZ border that is off limits to civilians. “Our military is already aware of these locations and closely monitors them.”

Furthermore, all contents must be approved by Kim Jong-un. 

“The scripts for broadcasts and leaflets, as well as their designs, must be approved by Kim Jong-un,” said the defector Jeon.

According to sources in North Korea, citizens are completely unaware of the human waste balloons sent by its government. When told, their reactions varied.

“No matter what, this isn’t right,” said a resident of Kyongwon County in North Hamgyong Province. “It would be extremely embarrassing if the international community were to find out.”

Meanwhile, a resident of Chongjin in North Hamgyong Province dismissed it, saying, “This has nothing to do with me.”

A resident in Hyesan in Yanggang Province commented, “The government knows what it’s doing. Whether they send shells or human waste to South Korea, what does it have to do with me? I’m just happy if I can make a good living today and not go hungry tomorrow.”

“The regime has not informed the people about this incident not because they are disinterested, but because the authorities know that it is an embarrassing thing to do,” said Jeong, a defector who entered South Korea in November 2022. 

“This incident was state-sponsored and ordered by Kim Jong-un,” he said. “But even he feels ashamed of it.”

Zane Han

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