South Korea vows ‘unbearable’ response to North Korea’s trash balloons

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South Korea on Sunday pledged it would take “unbearable” steps against North Korea after the country sent more balloons filled with trash across the border over the weekend.

North Korea on Saturday launched hundreds more ballon carrying “filth” into multiple provinces of South Korea, including areas of Seoul. An estimated 700 balloons were believed to be part of the latest fleet, days after the North sent a first batch of about 260 balloons last Tuesday.

The trash balloons contained cigarette butts, waste paper, vinyl and plastic bags, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Saturday, citing Seoul’s military. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the balloons did not contain dangerous substances, though residents were told not to touch them and to report them to the military or police.

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South Korea’s national security director Chang Ho-jin on Sunday said the nation’s top officials agreed to take “unbearable” measures in response to North Korea, calling their actions and alleged GPS signal jamming “absurd, irrational acts of provocation,” the Associated Press reported.

Pyongyang said the balloons were in response to a campaign organized by South Korean activists and North Korean defects who have launched balloons with anti-North Korea leaflets and other items, the AP reported.

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South Korean officials did not expand on the type of retaliatory measures they expect to take, though observers told the AP the country could resume front-line loudspeaker broadcasts into North Korea that feature criticism of its human rights situation, world news and K-pop songs, the news wire added.

The loudspeaker blasts stopped in 2018 after a rare meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Reuters reported.

Last week, the South Korean military said it did not plan to shoot down incoming ballons to avoid escalating already enflamed tensions near the border.

“(We) decided it was best to let the ballons drop and recover them safely,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson said last week, per the AP.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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