Helena Lyng Blak
2 weeks ago

North Korea Sends South Korea ‘Poop Balloons’

Tensions rise as North Korea launches balloons filled with garbage and feces into South Korea
Photo by kanvag
Photo by kanvag

This week, it was raining garbage in South Korea. 

Its neighboring rival North Korea reportedly dropped over 260 balloons carrying various garbage and other unwanted material into the country.

Reports on the content of the balloons differ somewhat, but the load seems to have included old clothes, cigarette butts, and most disgustingly, animal feces and dirty diapers

South Korean authorities have warned citizens not to touch the balloons, and residents north of Seoul and in the bordering region have even received texts from authorities discouraging them from outside activities.

Using balloons as a distribution method of various goods into the neighboring country is not a new strategy between North and South Korea. Since the end of the Korean War, both nations have regularly flown balloons carrying things like leaflets in propaganda campaigns. 

In 2012, for instance, a North Korean defector arranged a balloon campaign, sending messages like, “Brothers and sisters: We haven’t forgotten about your suffering,” and, “Until unification, please stay alive. People around the world love you,” into North Korea, alongside smalls ‘gifts’ like socks, which the country has a “dire shortage” of.

Other balloon propaganda campaigns include sending censored material into North Korea. 

In response to the South Korean campaigns, North Korea recently said it would retaliate against the “frequent scattering of leaflets and other rubbish,” writes the BBC. It seems as though the garbage and feces are said retaliation.

Although this incident may seem relatively harmless, perhaps even silly, it may be more serious than it appears. 

On Wednesday, May 29, 2024, Kim Yo-Jong, Deputy Director of the North Korean Propaganda and Agitation Department—and sister of Kim Jong-Un—said that the balloons were “sincere gifts” for the South Koreans advocating for freedom of expression in what can only be interpreted as mockery, Yonhap News Agency reports.

“The claim that the uncivilized and irrational act of spreading filth and trash is an expression of freedom is a preposterous argument unworthy of consideration,” Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk responded in a press briefing, and further warned North Korea to, “immediately stop the lowly actions, which not only threaten the safety of our citizens but also are an embarrassment to the North Korean residents.”

Former president of South Korea’s Institute for National Unification Kim Taewoo explains the gravity of the situation, telling AP News

“The balloon launches aren’t weak action at all. It’s like North Korea sending a message that next time, it can send balloons carrying powder forms of biological and chemical weapons.” 

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