PAJU, South Korea (AFP) – Police intervened in a tense confrontation between residents of a South Korean border town and activists attempting to send propaganda leaflets into the North Saturday, preventing the launch which had prompted threats of retaliation from Pyongyang.
The dispute began near a park in the border town of Paju, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Seoul, when a dozen people with their faces hooded seized an activists’ truck carrying balloons and leaflets.
Meanwhile some 100 police surrounded a bus carrying around 20 activists after local residents hurled eggs at it, shouting “Go back. Don’t put our lives in danger!”.
The activists had planned to release balloons carrying around 40,000 leaflets criticising the North’s government across the heavily-militarised frontier.
But with Pyongyang threatening to retaliate over the launch, local residents set up road blocks with tractors and a placard reading “Stop anti-North leaflet launch jeopardising our lives!”.
“We will become the victims of shelling if leaflets are scattered,” read another placard put up in a tree.
The activists retreated after a two-hour protest during which they traded insults with the residents and chanted slogans such as “Let’s terminate the dictatorship of (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un!”.
However they did not abandon their attempt entirely, parking their bus on a road leading to the park with some insisting they should try again to float the balloons.
Despite Seoul’s stance that the activists have a democratic right to launch the leaflets, police had said they might intervene to prevent a clash between activists and residents.