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N. Korean defectors send anti-Pyongyang fliers amid growing tensions on border island

A group of North Korean defectors flew propaganda leaflets toward the North on Saturday denouncing the communist state's attack on this border island last month, as tensions spiked over a planned South Korean live-fire drill.

   North Korea warned of a deadlier attack should the South
proceed with its exercise off Yeonpyeong, just below the Yellow Sea
border. Its earlier attack on Nov. 23 followed a similar South
Korean exercise in the region, killing two marines and two
civilians.

   Several activists from North Korean defectors' organizations,
including the Seoul-based Fighters for Free North Korea, sent 10
balloons from Yeonpyeong that carried about 200,000 leaflets
critical of the North Korean attack and its regime. The balloons
also contained 500 CDs that hold the footage of the shelling and,
in a bid to encourage North Korean citizens to pick them up, 1,000
U.S. one-dollar bills.

   North Korea finds such propaganda fliers highly provocative and
has repeatedly condemned the South Korean government for failing to
prohibit such activities.

   "While the (South Korean) people's anxiety had yet to subside
after the Cheonan incident, North Korea indiscriminately bombarded
South Korean territory again," Park Sang-hak, a North Korean
defector and head of Fighters for Free North Korea, said, referring
to the March sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on a North
Korean torpedo attack. "We flew the leaflets in order to tell the
North Korean people of this provocative behavior."

   The leaflets carry such messages as "Let's bring down the
third-generation hereditary succession" or "Rise up, North Korean
compatriots," Park said.

   Judging from the wind blowing from the southwest, they forecast
the fliers would end up in Pyongyang or the western port city of
Nampo in the coming days.

   A skirmish erupted between the defectors and some Yeonpyeong
residents, who feared the fliers may further provoke the North. But
no casualties occurred.

   The island residents were anxious and worried that the drill
would trigger a new attack, as North Korea warned it would strike
back with "deadlier" firepower if the South went ahead with its exercise.

   "The situation makes me too nervous to stay, since North Korea
may fire artillery at any time in the near future," Kang Yeong-gil,
a 67-year-old farmer, said. "As soon as this rice crop gets sold in
the government procurement, I will leave."

   Residents closely monitored television news for further
developments, bracing for any sign of a possible North Korean
provocation.

   "I couldn't sleep last night. The day-to-day situation is so
unstable I can't live here anymore," a resident, who identified
himself by his surname Kim, said.

   Some were angry over the South Korean military's decision to
hold the one-day exercise despite North Korea's warning of a
full-scale war. The drill was expected to start as early as this
weekend but the military decided to move it back a day or two
because of bad weather, a military source said Saturday.

   The residents demanded the military try putting itself in their
shoes.

   "Honestly I don't want our military to go ahead with the drill.
It seems as if our government is watching the fire on the other
side of the river," a resident surnamed Ko said. (Yonhap News)




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