North Korea has sent another set of balloons packed with trash towards South Korea, after carrying out a similar exercise a few days earlier, according to South Korea’s military. Pyongyang has called it retaliation for activists flying anti-North-Korean leaflets across the border. According to the Associated Press (AP), between Saturday night and Sunday morning, North Korea sent around 600 balloons that have been found in various parts of South Korea.

These balloons carried cigarette butts, scraps of cloth, waste paper and vinyl, but didn’t contain anything dangerous, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday, the AP report said.

However, the military has still advised people to be wary of falling objects. It has also asked the public to not touch objects suspected to be from North Korea, and to report them to the police or military. There have been no reports of injuries or damage.

According to CNN, these balloons were found in the capital Seoul, as well as the provinces of Gyeonggi and Chungcheong. Some were even spotted more than 300 kilometres south of the capital, in Gyeongsang province. In Seoul, the local government sent text alerts saying unidentified objects suspected to have flown in from North Korea were detected in skies near the city, and that the military was responding to them. 

North Korea’s balloon launches have added to a series of provocative steps, including a failed spy satellite launch and a barrage of short-range missile launches, which Pyongyang claimed were intended to demonstrate its capability to attack the South preemptively.

Kim Yo-Jong’s Statement

In a statement on Wednesday, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, confirmed that the North sent the balloons in response to “leafleting campaigns” by South Korean activists. She hinted that balloons could become the North’s standard response to leafletting moving forward, saying the North would respond by “scattering rubbish dozens of times more than those being scattered to us”.

The two neighbouring countries have been cut off from each other since the end of the Korean War in 1953, which concluded in armistice. The two countries are technically still at war. 

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