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Seoul will restart anti-Pyongyang loudspeaker broadcasts in retaliation against trash balloons

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says it will restart anti-North Korean propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts in border areas in response to continuing North Korean campaigns to drop trash on the South with balloons.

Following an emergency security meeting led by South Korean national security director Chang Ho-jin, the officials decided to install and begin the loudspeaker broadcasts in border areas on Sunday, Seoul’s presidential office said in a statement. The move is certain to anger North Korea and potentially prompt it to take its own retaliatory military steps.

Chang and other South Korean security officials berated Pyongyang for attempting to cause “anxiety and disruption” in South Korea and stressed that North Korea will be “solely responsible” for any future escalation of tensions between the Koreas.

North Korea over the weekend flew hundreds of trash-carrying balloons to South Korea in its third such campaign since late May, the South’s military said, just days after South Korean activists floated their own balloons to scatter propaganda leaflets in the North.

North Korea has so far sent more than 1,000 balloons to drop tons of trash and manure in the South in retaliation against South Korean civilian leafletting campaigns, adding to tensions between the war-divided rivals amid a diplomatic stalemate over the North’s nuclear ambitions.

The resumption of South Korea’s loudspeaker broadcasts has been widely anticipated since last week, when South Korea suspended a 2018 tension-easing agreement with North Korea. The move allowed for the South to resume propaganda campaigns and possibly restart live-fire military exercises in border areas.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the North launching