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Korea Balloon War

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A balloon carrying varied objects together with what gave the impression to be trash, believed to have been despatched by North Korea, is pictured on the sea off Incheon, South Korea, June 9, 2024.
| Photo Credit: VIA REUTERS

What’s been taking place

The present “balloon war” isn’t a brand new battle, however an escalation of a long-standing propaganda tactic between North and South Korea. A timeline

  • May 2024: South Korean activists affiliated with “Fighters for Free North Korea” seem to have initiated the latest escalation. It all began with these activists sending round 10 balloons carrying leaflets essential of the North Korean regime and USB drives containing South Korean media (Ok-pop, dramas) throughout the border. This wasn’t new, however absolutely was the tipping level.
  • Late May 2024: North Korea retaliated by sending a whole lot of balloons laden with trash and presumably even manure into South Korea. This was possible supposed to be a nuisance and present of defiance. The first set of balloon assaults concerned round 250 balloons. The second wave, launched inside 15 days of the primary, consisted of roughly 300 balloons, with 80 touchdown in South Korea.
  • Early June 2024: Tensions rose additional as North Korea launched one other wave of trash-filled balloons. South Korea responded by resuming loudspeaker broadcasts with information and knowledge essential of the North Korean authorities, a tactic used up to now. This occurred for the primary time since 2018.
  • Mid-June 2024: Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean chief Kim Jong-un, condemns the South’s actions, calling them a “prelude to a very dangerous situation.” South Korea views this as an escalation in threats.
FILE - This photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, shows balloons with trash presumably sent by North Korea, in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea, on May 29, 2024. South Korea has recently retaliated for North Korea's trash-carrying balloon launches with propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts at border areas. The South Korean broadcasts reportedly included K-pop sensation BTS’s mega hits like “Butter” and “Dynamite,” weather forecasts and news on Samsung as well as outside criticism on the North’s missile program.(South Korea Defense Ministry via AP, File)

FILE – This picture supplied by South Korea Defense Ministry, exhibits balloons with trash presumably despatched by North Korea, in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea, on May 29, 2024. South Korea has not too long ago retaliated for North Korea’s trash-carrying balloon launches with propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts at border areas. The South Korean broadcasts reportedly included Ok-pop sensation BTS’s mega hits like “Butter” and “Dynamite,” climate forecasts and information on Samsung in addition to exterior criticism on the North’s missile program.(South Korea Defense Ministry by way of AP, File)

These balloons are giant, clear cylinders crammed with helium and carry messages written in Korean.

This balloon trade is occurring in opposition to the backdrop of a bigger subject: North Korea’s nuclear program and the stalled diplomatic efforts to handle it.

The balloon struggle itself isn’t significantly harmful (aside from the environmental affect of the trash), however it highlights the delicate relationship between the 2 Koreas and the potential for a extra severe battle.

This “balloon war” is a part of a protracted historical past of psychological warfare between the 2 Koreas.

FILE - Park Sang-hak, center, a refugee from the North who runs the group Fighters for a Free North Korea from a small Seoul office, and South Korean conservative activists prepare to release balloons bearing leaflets condemning the North Korean leader during an anti-North Korea rally against the 99th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth, called 'The Day of the Sun,' at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on April 15, 2011. The balloons read 'Overthrow Kim Jong Il's dictatorship.' South Koreans were alert Friday, June 7, 2024 for possible new launches by North Korea of balloons carrying rubbish into the South, a day after Seoul activists flew their own balloons to scatter political leaflets in the North. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

FILE – Park Sang-hak, middle, a refugee from the North who runs the group Fighters for a Free North Korea from a small Seoul workplace, and South Korean conservative activists put together to launch balloons bearing leaflets condemning the North Korean chief throughout an anti-North Korea rally in opposition to the 99th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s delivery, known as “The Day of the Sun,” on the Imjingak Pavilion close to the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on April 15, 2011. The balloons learn “Overthrow Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship.” South Koreans have been alert Friday, June 7, 2024 for potential new launches by North Korea of balloons carrying garbage into the South, a day after Seoul activists flew their very own balloons to scatter political leaflets within the North. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)
| Photo Credit:
Lee Jin-man

History: What’s up with the Koreans?

The division of the Korean Peninsula dates again to the top of World War II in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese occupation. The peninsula was cut up alongside the thirty eighth parallel, with the Soviet Union occupying the North and the United States occupying the South. This division was meant to be short-term, however ideological variations led to the institution of two separate governments: the communist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the capitalist Republic of Korea (South Korea).

In 1950, the Korean War erupted when North Korean forces invaded the South. The battle lasted till 1953, ending in an armistice however not a peace treaty, technically leaving the 2 Koreas nonetheless at struggle. Since then, the peninsula has been marked by intermittent durations of hostility and efforts at reconciliation, with ongoing tensions stemming from ideological variations, navy confrontations, and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

A leaflet (R) containing a US dollar bill is seen next to a poster (L) reading 'Republic of Korea loves the North Korean people' during an AFP interview with North Korean defector Park Sang-hak in Seoul on June 25, 2024. Park considers the propaganda balloons he floats into his homeland to be part of a tradition of psychological warfare, and vows to keep going until Kim Jong Un's regime falls. The son of a North Korean double agent who escaped his country in 1999, Park has been sending balloons loaded with anti-regime propaganda leaflets, US dollar bills and USB drives of K-pop across the border for nearly 20 years. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) / To go with 'SKOREA-NKOREA-DIPLOMACY-CONFLICT, PROFILE' by Kang Jin-kyu and Cat Barton

A leaflet (R) containing a US greenback invoice is seen subsequent to a poster (L) studying “Republic of Korea loves the North Korean people” throughout an AFP interview with North Korean defector Park Sang-hak in Seoul on June 25, 2024. Park considers the propaganda balloons he floats into his homeland to be a part of a convention of psychological warfare, and vows to maintain going till Kim Jong Un’s regime falls. The son of a North Korean double agent who escaped his nation in 1999, Park has been sending balloons loaded with anti-regime propaganda leaflets, US greenback payments and USB drives of Ok-pop throughout the border for almost 20 years. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) / To go along with ‘SKOREA-NKOREA-DIPLOMACY-CONFLICT, PROFILE’ by Kang Jin-kyu and Cat Barton
| Photo Credit:
ANTHONY WALLACE

Use of balloons in psychological warfare

The use of balloons for psychological warfare dates again to the Korean War (1950-1953).

  • Korean War: The United Nations and South Korean forces used balloons to drop thousands and thousands of leaflets over North Korean and Chinese troops. These leaflets contained messages encouraging defection and spreading information concerning the progress of the struggle.
  • Cold War: The United States and South Korea continued to make use of balloons to ship anti-communist propaganda into North Korea. Balloons have been loaded with leaflets, radios, and different objects supposed to affect North Korean civilians and navy personnel.

How a psychological affect

These balloons may attain distant and closely guarded areas that have been in any other case inaccessible, spreading propaganda deep into enemy territory. Leaflets and broadcasts from the skin world may undermine the enemy’s morale and sow doubt among the many inhabitants about their authorities and its propaganda.

A balloon containing leaflets denouncing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, March 26, 2016, on the sixth anniversary of the sunken naval ship Cheonan. The lettering on the banner reads 'Merciless attacks on nuclear addict Kim Jong Un' (top) and 'Sprits of deceased 46 navy sailors on the sunken naval ship Cheonan want Kim Jong Un's life.' (bottom). REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A balloon containing leaflets denouncing North Korean chief Kim Jong Un is seen close to the demilitarized zone separating the 2 Koreas in Paju, South Korea, March 26, 2016, on the sixth anniversary of the sunken naval ship Cheonan. The lettering on the banner reads “Merciless attacks on nuclear addict Kim Jong Un” (prime) and “Sprits of deceased 46 navy sailors on the sunken naval ship Cheonan want Kim Jong Un’s life.” (backside). REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
| Photo Credit:
KIM HONG-JI

‘Smart balloons’

A bunch in Seoul known as “The Committee for Reform and Opening up of Joson” has give you a brand new method to ship messages to North Korea. They’ve constructed high-tech balloons they name “smart balloons.” These balloons can fly far into North Korea and drop leaflets and even play messages with audio system. This is an entire new stage of utilizing balloons to attempt to affect North Korea. Let’s see how these balloons work and what sort of messages they carry.

A monitor shows the GPS tracking of balloons built by a Seoul-based activist group that are designed to distribute anti-North Korean messages over North Korean territory in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2024.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A monitor exhibits the GPS monitoring of balloons constructed by a Seoul-based activist group which might be designed to distribute anti-North Korean messages over North Korean territory in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
| Photo Credit:
KIM HONG-JI

Fast information

These custom-made balloons utilise 3D-printed components and elements sourced on-line.

Each balloon prices round $1,000. (83 thousand INR appx)

Payload capability: Up to 7.5 kilograms of leaflets, audio system, or a mixture of each.

Leaflet dispensers: Programmed to scatter leaflets at intervals primarily based on climate situations.

Speakers with parachutes: These waterproof units blare pre-recorded messages essential of North Korea’s chief for as much as 5 days.

A member of a Seoul-based activist group, who is a North Korean defector, sets the time on a device that will be carried by balloon to distribute anti-North Korean leaflets over North Korean territory, in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2024.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A member of a Seoul-based activist group, who’s a North Korean defector, units the time on a tool that shall be carried by balloon to distribute anti-North Korean leaflets over North Korean territory, in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
| Photo Credit:
KIM HONG-JI

Pre-programmed to scatter 1,500 leaflets, 25 at a time.

Designed to account for flight path, wind, and different climate situations.

Deploy with parachutes that open mid-flight.

Broadcast quarter-hour of pre-recorded messages in a North Korean accent, pausing for half-hour between classes.

Battery life: as much as 5 days.

A test run for a speaker device attached to parachutes which will broadcast anti-North Korean messages after being carried over North Korean territory by balloon, in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2024.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A check run for a speaker system hooked up to parachutes which is able to broadcast anti-North Korean messages after being carried over North Korean territory by balloon, in Seoul, South Korea, June 3, 2024. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
| Photo Credit:
KIM HONG-JI

In 2020, the South Korean authorities banned the launches, citing considerations about escalating tensions with the North. However, a court docket later overturned the ban, upholding freedom of speech. Some South Koreans oppose the balloon launches, fearing they provoke North Korea and endanger native residents. This authorized ambiguity, coupled with public worry of retaliation and North Korean threats, creates a contentious surroundings across the balloon campaigns.

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