NewsNorth Korea's balloon attacks cause massive flight disruptions in South Korea

North Korea's balloon attacks cause massive flight disruptions in South Korea

Pyongyang sent over 2,000 balloons with waste toward South Korea.
Pyongyang sent over 2,000 balloons with waste toward South Korea.
Images source: © PAP | KCNA

4:37 PM EDT, July 3, 2024

The North Korean campaign of sending balloons filled with waste to South Korea has caused serious disruptions in air traffic, a South Korean lawmaker reported on Wednesday. Experts from the American think tank CSIS evaluate Pyongyang's actions as a form of "soft terrorism."

As part of a "retaliatory action" that has lasted for over a month due to the dropping of leaflets against Kim Jong-un's regime, Pyongyang sent over 2,000 balloons filled with waste, including paper waste, worn-out clothes, and soil containing traces of human feces and parasites, towards South Korea.

Referring to new data from the South Korean Ministry of Transport, lawmaker Jeong Jun Ho reported that the airborne balloons disrupted the flights of 115 commercial airplanes, affecting the travel plans and safety of over 10,000 passengers.

At the end of June, the media reported suspending operations at Incheon International Airport due to detecting several balloons in its area. Airport authorities confirmed that one of the balloons landed on the airport apron near the passenger terminal, and three runways were temporarily closed; it was added that this was not the first such incident.

The Pyongyang regime resorts to sending trash instead of propaganda leaflets, as it did during the Cold War, because it knows that promoting its ideology among South Koreans is "ridiculous" and "confirms the bankruptcy of Pyongyang's ideology," assessed experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in a report published on Monday.

Although the balloons expose North Korea's weakness and insecurity, they should not be underestimated. Balloons filled with trash and the damage they cause are a form of soft terrorism, CSIS analysts warned.

"Imagine if the balloons contained an unidentifiable white powder; it would cause panic in South Korea's society and affect foreign capital in the national economy," they added.

Experts: Kim Jong-un is not preparing for war

The report's authors rejected the claims of some observers who maintain that the North Korean dictator "has made a strategic decision to start a war."

If Kim Jong-un "were preparing for war, it is unlikely he would be selling all his ammunition to Russia, nor would he sever relations with South Korea," the experts write. They added that Pyongyang "would not be announcing a future invasion but hypocritically calling for inter-Korean peace initiatives, as was done on the eve of the Korean War (1950-1953)," they noted.

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