South Korea Ends Military Pact with North After Tit-for-Tat Balloon Quarrel

by | Jun 3, 2024

South Korea Ends Military Pact with North After Tit-for-Tat Balloon Quarrel

by | Jun 3, 2024

kim balloon top

Seoul says it is scrapping a 2018 military agreement with Pyongyang after North Korea floated hundreds of trash-filled balloons into South Korea. The DPRK says the trash barrage was a response to a years-long South Korean campaign that sent propaganda messages into the North aimed at undermining the government of Kim Jong-un. 

The supreme leader’s sister – Kim Yo-jong, who’s also a leading party official – issued a statement last week that said North Koreans had placed “toilet paper and waste” into balloons and floated them into South Korea. Seoul reported hundreds of balloons entering its airspace and said some contained manure. 

Kim asserted that the North Korean balloons were sent in response to balloons that South Koreans regularly float across the border with information aimed at fomenting dissent against Pyongyang. 

“Now, the trashy [South] Koreans are brazenly claiming that their leaflet distribution against us is ‘freedom of expression’ and that our actions that correspond to them are a ‘clear violation of international law,’” Kim continued, “Are ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘international law’ regulated depending on the direction in which the balloon flies?”

On Sunday, Pyongyang said it would stop sending its balloons if Seoul cut the practice as well. South Korea responded to the balloon quarrel by fully terminating a 2018 military pact that limited activity along the Korean border. Last year, Seoul partially walked back from its commitments in the agreement after Pyongyang successfully launched a spy satellite in space. 

US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol have taken a hardline stance towards North Korea. The policy has resulted in hundreds of North Korean missile tests, the elimination of deescalation agreements with the DPRK, the remilitarization of the Korean border, and an all-around reduction in communication between Washington, Seoul, and Pyongyang. 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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