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South Korea residents on border with North Korea fear spike in tensions

PAJU, South Korea - When North Korea sent hundreds of balloons carrying trash over the border to South Korea last week, the move sparked emergency alerts and round-the-clock media coverage in its neighbouring country.

But while many South Koreans likely did not linger for too long on the incident, for residents living near the heavily fortified border, it was just the latest in a worrying rise in tensions between the Koreas.

"Some people consider it a problem for someone else's neighbourhood," said Yoon Seol-hyun, who owns a guest house and a travel agency in the border town of Paju, urging all South Koreans to pay attention and help do more to calm the situation.

Friction has been increasing as the South responded to the balloons by resuming military activities along the demarcation line.

Seoul has not ruled out the return of loudspeakers to blast propaganda at the border with the North.

The border area is popular with local and foreign tourists keen to take a peek at the isolated North, but Yoon said his business in Paju, which is about 35km north of the capital Seoul, had been hurt by the rise in tensions.

Paju resident No Hyun-ki, 60, is also worried about the recent tit-for-tat retaliation between the Koreas.

"Then there's no choice... but to have a sense of fear that North Korea's artillery might fly towards this place," said the resident, describing Paju as "the tensest city".

The two Koreas remain technically at war since an armistice agreement ended fighting in the 1950 to 1953 Korean War.

Their militaries face off across the inter-Korea border and North Korea has deployed missiles and rockets aimed at the South and routinely threatens to annihilate its neighbour.

North Korea has said it will suspend sending