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N. Korea urges S. Korea to curb leaflet campaign

North Korea called on South Korea on Wednesday to put the brakes on the spread of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by activists here if it genuinely wants a resumption of dialogue.

The call came two days after a North Korean defectors' group flew balloons with leaflets criticizing and ridiculing the communist regime toward the North from a border area.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed in a commentary that South Korea is out of step with the North's "goodwill and generosity" for improved bilateral ties by winking at the leaflet campaign.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

"Such a reckless act was done at a time when all Koreans in the North and the South and abroad were eagerly hoping to see mended North-South relations," said the KCNA.

"It is a blatant challenge to the DPRK's sincere stand and appeal for improved North-South relations and national reunification and a last-ditch effort to obstruct the improvement of north-south relations and spoil an atmosphere of dialogue."

DPRK is the acronym for the country's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

It was referring to Kim's speech aired on Jan. 1, in which he emphasized the need to improve inter-Korean relations this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's 35-year colonial rule.

He said Pyongyang is willing to engage in various types of dialogue with Seoul even at the highest level.

It was the first time that he openly spoke about the possibility of inter-Korean summit talks, although he attached routine preconditions to the olive branch such as a halt to annual joint defense exercises between South Korea and the United States.

The conservative Park Geun-hye administration of the South maintains that the military drills are a necessary defensive measure and that there are no legal grounds to formally ban the leaflet campaign because of freedom of speech.

Local media have paid attention to whether there will be a change in the government's position on the leaflet issue after a related court ruling.

The Uijeongbu District Court, located just north of Seoul, ruled Tuesday that the authorities can restrict the scattering of leaflets if it jeopardizes public safety amid Pyongyang's threat of military retaliation.

The court added that it's true that the leaflet campaign is associated with the freedom of speech.

The unification ministry said it respects the court's ruling and it will continue to seek appropriate measures to protect its people from the North's possible attack.

"There is no change in our basic stance (on the matter). But we will cooperate with police, if needed, to ease concerns about dangers to the lives and property of our people," ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing.

He stuck to the expression of "safety-related measures,"

avoiding a direct answer to questions about whether the government has plans to ban such leaflet launches in a pre-emptive manner. (Yonhap)
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