Thursday, January 29, 2009

South Korea says No to North Korean currency in propaganda packages

The government on Wednesday said it will not permit activists to send North Korean won to the North attached to anti-communist propaganda leaflets.

Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun told reporters that activists who do so without the minister's permission would violate Article 13 of the South-North Exchange and Cooperation Act. This carries a prison term of up to three years or a fine of up to W10 million (US$1=W1,378).

The president of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, one particularly active group, expressed dismay. "How can the government prevent North Korean defectors from sending money to their families in North Korea?" Choi Sung-yong said. He vowed to continue the practice regardless of punishment.

The activist groups, which also include Fighters for Free North Korea, have so far attached U.S. dollar or Chinese yuan bills to leaflets they float across the border tied to helium balloons. But they announced that as of next month they would also send 5,000 North Korean won bills, the largest denomination banknote and equivalent to about US$1.50.

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