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South Korean military says 350 waste balloons detected from North Korea overnight as tensions flare

Seoul CNN —

South Korea spotted another 350 North Korean balloons “presumed” to be carrying waste on Monday, reigniting a tit-for-tat exchange as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to heighten.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said a suspected balloon was seen flying in northern Gyeonggi Province, which borders Seoul, around 9 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET).

About 100 of the balloons fell inside South Korean regions, most of which were found in north of Gyeonggi Province and capital Seoul with “no hazardous substances” found so far, it said.

Seoul’s Metropolitan government later sent out a push notification alerting the city that a North Korean balloon had entered the sky over Seoul, adding that citizens should refrain from touching downed balloons and report any sightings to authorities.

The South Korean military has warned it could restart loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts at the border — which it had paused for the last few years — adding whether Seoul resumes the loudspeakers is “up to North Korea’s actions.”

“Our military is ready to immediately start anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts, and will operate with flexibility according to the strategical and operational situation,” said the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday.

North Korea has sent over 1,000 balloons toward the South since May, which it calls reprisals for South Korean activists flying leaflets that contain materials critical of the regime of its leader Kim Jong Un.

On Thursday, a South Korean advocacy group flew 20 large balloons carrying thousands of anti-North Korean propaganda leaflets and USB sticks with South Korean entertainment toward North Korea. A day later, on Friday, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korea’s leader,