After releasing a balloon from a small fishing boat off Korea's west coast, North Korean defector Park Sang-hak says, "I am trying to tell the truth to North Koreans who do not even know they are living under dictatorship."
The black-and-white leaflets urge North Koreans to rise up against Kim Jong Il. Also featured on the leaflet: a diagram of Kim's alleged romantic relationships, including his wife and eight other women and their children - a tactic designed to encourage traditional North Koreans to question their leader's morals.
Some leaflets contain $1 bills or 10-yuan notes from China (worth $1.50) - an amount believed to surpass the average monthly wage in North Korea.
Suzanne Scholte, chairwoman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition in the U.S., says to prevent people from reading the leaflets, Pyongyang warns its citizens: “If you pick up this pamphlet, it will burn your hands,” citing accounts from North Koreans who defected to the South.
One defector, writer Kang Chol-hwan, said the leaflets serve as a wake-up call to North Koreans who are brainwashed to believe they live in a paradise. “South Korea's leaflets show North Koreans that they can live well in the South,” Kang said.
Many were taught at school that Kang and another man pictured on the leaflets were executed after being caught trying to flee the North. But the photo on that leaflet showed that Kang, who later wrote a best-selling memoir, “The Aquariums of Pyongyang” about his childhood in a North Korean prison camp, was alive and well in South Korea.