File photo (Yonhap)
A law banning the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea will take effect this week, the unification ministry said Monday.
The amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act, set to go into effect Tuesday, has raised concerns that it could hurt freedom of expression and undercut efforts to send information into the reclusive North.
"In the process of enforcing the ban, we will strive to do so in a way in line with the government's goal of improving the human rights situation of North Koreans and inter-Korean relations, and bringing peace on the Korean Peninsula," Lee Jong-joo, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing Monday.
"As there were some concerns over the bill, we have clarified the scope of its application through guidelines. In the process of drafting the guidelines and preparing the law, we were in communication with activist groups in the country and abroad," Lee said.
Lee also stressed that the ministry will continue to apply the law in a "flexible and reasonable manner," and to protect the lives and safety of the residents living in the border areas.
The law prohibits the launching of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, with violators subject to a maximum prison term of three years or a fine of 30 million won ($27,400). (Yonhap)