North Koreans prepare anti-Seoul leaflets at an undisclosed North Korean location, in an undated picture released by KCNA on Sunday. — AFP/VNA Photo
SEOUL — North Korea has millions of propaganda leaflets ready to send to the South by an aerial armada of balloons, it said Monday, heightening its rhetoric against Seoul after blowing up a liaison office.
In recent weeks, Pyongyang has issued a series of vitriolic condemnations of Seoul over anti-North leaflets, which defectors based in the South send across the border – usually attached to balloons or floated in bottles.
The North says it will have nothing more to do with Seoul, and last week blew up a liaison office on its side of the border that symbolised inter-Korean rapprochement, while threatening to bolster its military presence in and near the Demilitarised Zone.
Analysts say Pyonygang has been conducting a series of staged provocations aimed at forcing concessions from Seoul and Washington with nuclear talks at a standstill.
Ostensibly the source of its anger is the leaflets which it says insult the dignity of its leadership – a reference to leader Kim Jong Un.
It is preparing to retaliate with its "largest-ever distribution of leaflets against the enemy", the official Korean Central News Agency reported Monday.
Altogether "12 million leaflets of all kinds reflective of the wrath and hatred of the people from all walks of life" have been produced, it said, and more than 3,000 balloons prepared to send them far to the south.
"The time for retaliatory punishment is drawing near," it said.
Both Koreas used to regularly send leaflets to the other side, but agreed to stop such propaganda activities – including loudspeaker broadcasts along the frontier – in the Panmunjom Declaration that Moon and Kim signed at their first summit in 2018.
In a commentary this month, KCNA described leaflet-scattering as "undisguised psychological warfare" and "an act of a preemptive attack that precedes a war".
At times it has led to escalation – in October 2014 the North opened fire on an air balloon carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets, triggering an exchange of shots at the border.
But most South Koreans largely ignore leaflets they find sent by the North.
The flyers often boast of its military prowess or criticise the US and Southern presidents, accompanied by offensive images and language. — AFP