Tuesday, October 14, 2008

North Korean defectors drop leaflets

The North Korean trembled when he spotted the leaflet that had fluttered down from a balloon. He snatched it, stuffed it into his pocket and ran to the bathroom to read it.

Park Sang-hak says he read that slip of vinyl - which bragged about the good life North Korean defectors were enjoying in South Korea - more than 15 times in disbelief. Fifteen years later, Park is now on the other side of the border. He defected to South Korea in 1999 and now helps launch propaganda balloons filled with leaflets denouncing the Stalinist regime.

The 40-foot balloons - fueled by hydrogen and shaped like missiles - are the most direct way to reach people living in one of the world's most isolated nations. Few North Koreans have access to cell phones or the Internet, and millions have no way of getting in contact with relatives living in South Korea.

Activists and defectors in South Korea continue to send balloons filled with leaflets across the border, despite pleas from Seoul to stop at a time when inter-Korean relations are at their lowest point in years. The activists hope to spark a rebellion to overthrow Kim Jong Il

Park, 40, says he's an ardent advocate of the propaganda campaigns. “I am trying to tell the truth to North Koreans who do not even know they are living under dictatorship.”


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