South Korean police raid anti-North activist’s office

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea police yesterday raided the office of an activist whose anti-North Korea leafleting campaign has intensified tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Police said officers visited the Seoul office of Park Sang-hak to confiscate leaflets, account books and other related materials. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said that Park will be summoned soon for an investigation. Park, a North Korean refugee who has launched balloons carrying propaganda leaflets toward North Korea for years, has been in the spotlight after North Korea abruptly used his campaign as a justification for a series of provocative steps against South Korea.

Among them was blowing up an empty liaison office built by South Korea on the North’s territory.

South Korean officials later demanded police investigate Park for allegedly raising animosities with North Korea and potentially endangering residents living near the border.

Authorities in Gyeonggi province, which borders North Korea, requested a separate investigation of several activist groups, including Park’s, for alleged fraud, embezzlement and other charges over their donation activities. Park said on Monday that his leafleting was only aimed at informing North Korean residents of the truth about their government and that he would keep sending balloons to them.

The pressure on activists has led to criticism that the liberal government of President Moon Jae-in is sacrificing democratic principles to salvage its faltering efforts for reconciliation with North Korea. The governor of Gyeonggi province is affiliated with Moon’s ruling party.

A police agency official involved in the case said officers also raided the office of Park’s brother, Park Jung-oh, who has floated plastic bottles filled with rice toward North Korea across the sea boundary. The official, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said police plan to summon Park Jung-oh too.

Police officers ride a boat to collect a balloon carrying a banner with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the late leader Kim Il sung and Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of Kim Jong-un, released by Fighters For Free North Korea, in Hongcheon, South Korea. A South Korean activist said hundreds of thousands of leaflets had been launched by balloon across the border with North Korea, after the North repeatedly warned it would retaliate against such actions. PHOTO: AP