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Opposition leader urges inter-Korean talks amid heightened tensions

ANN/THE KOREAN HERALD – Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung yesterday said both Koreas need to engage in dialogue to reduce escalating tensions caused by Pyongyang’s recent trash-carrying balloon campaign and Seoul’s response.

In a social media post, Lee warned that the fragile peace on the Korean Peninsula is under threat due to retaliatory measures between the two sides.

Lee pointed out the provocative actions such as North Korea’s trash-carrying balloons, South Korean civic groups’ anti-Pyongyang leaflets, and the suspension of the inter-Korean military pact. He urged North Korea to cease its provocative behaviours and strive towards establishing a lasting peace regime, as envisioned in the June 15, 2000 Declaration from the first inter-Korean summit.

“The South Korean government should realise that ordinary citizens and residents near the border will bear any damage should it stick to a hard-line, eye-for-eye stance,” Lee said.

Tensions have recently heightened on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang sent over 1,000 balloons carrying trash to the South since late May in what it claims is a response to anti Pyongyang leafleting.

The move eventually led South Korea to fully suspend a 2018 inter-Korean tension reduction pact and resume propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts near the border for the first time in six years.

Defector groups in the South have sent balloons carrying leaflets and other goods across the border, although such acts are banned in the country under a law that was legislated during the previous administration to help reduce tensions in the border regions.

Head of the main opposition Lee Jae-myung presides over an emergency task force meeting on crisis management of the Korean Peninsula at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: YONHAP & AP
A balloon presumably sent by North Korea is seen in a paddy field. PHOTO: YONHAP & AP

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