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South Korean group flies propaganda leaflets across border following North’s trash-balloon launches

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean activists’ group said Thursday it flew large balloons carrying propaganda leaflets toward North Korea, although the North has threatened to send more balloons with manure and trash across the border in response to such campaigns.

The launches are escalating animosities, with South Korea suspending a tension-easing deal with North Korea and preparing to resume frontline military activities. North Korea had halted its flights of rubbish-carrying balloons but threatened to resume them if South Korean activists sent leaflets again.

The South Korean civilian group, led by North Korean defector Park Sang-hak, said it floated 10 balloons tied to 200,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets, USB sticks with K-pop songs and South Korean dramas and one-dollar U.S. bills from a border town on Thursday.

Park’s long-running balloon activities have caused furious protests from North Korea, which is extremely wary of any outside attempt to undermine Kim Jong Un’s rule. The North’s state media previously called Park “human scum without an equal in the world.”

After North Korea started launching hundreds of trash-carrying balloons on South Korea last week, Kim’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, said the campaign was meant to carry out the North’s threat to conduct a tit-for-tat action against a South Korean leafleting. Observers say North Korea was referring to Park’s previous balloon activities in May.

“We sent the truth and love, medicines, one-dollar bills and songs. But a barbaric Kim Jong Un sent us filth and garbage and he hasn’t made a word of apology over that,” Park said in a statement. “Our group, the Fighters for Free North Korea, will keep sending our leaflets, which are the letters of truth and freedom