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South Korea set to resume anti North loudspeaker broadcasts in border regions

SOUTH KOREA today resumed anti-North Korean propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts in border areas in retaliation to the North sending more than 1,000 balloons filled with rubbish and manure over the last couple of weeks.

Following an emergency security meeting led by South Korean national security director Chang Ho Jin on Sunday, officials decided to install and resume the loudspeaker broadcasts, Seoul’s presidential office said in a statement.

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

The North said that its campaign came after South Korean activists sent over balloons filled with anti-North Korean leaflets, as well as USB sticks filled with popular South Korean songs and dramas.

With the loudspeakers, South Korea may blare anti-Pyongyang broadcasts, K-pop songs and outside news across the rivals’ heavily armed border.

In 2015, when South Korea restarted loudspeaker broadcasts for the first time in 11 years, the North fired artillery rounds across the border, prompting South Korea to return fire, according to South Korean officials. No casualties were reported.

Last week, as tensions spiked over the rubbish-carrying balloons, South Korea also suspended a 2018 tension-easing agreement, allowing it to resume propaganda campaigns and possibly restart live-fire military exercises in border areas.

South Korean Defence Minister Shin Won Sik, in a meeting with top military commanders, called for thorough preparation against the possibility that the North responds to the loudspeaker broadcasts with direct military action, the South Korean Defence Ministry said in a statement. 

A number of South Korean lawmakers, some civic groups and front-line residents in South Korea have called on the government to urge leafleting activists to stop flying balloons to avoid unnecessary clashes. 

But government officials have refused to make such an appeal.

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