Paju: North Korean defectors based in South Korea flew propaganda leaflets across the border on Friday to denounce the North`s third-generation political succession, drawing the ire of locals wary of possible retaliation.
A group of about 10 defectors and activists used large helium-filled balloons to send what they said were about 200,000 leaflets and 1,000 US dollar bills from a site near the heavily fortified border. Another group of South Korean activists sent more balloons with leaflets.
South Korean citizens sympathetic to the North and residents of the border city of Paju tried to stop the leafletting, blocking a road with a large truck. Scuffles erupted as the activists prepared to float the balloons.
Paju residents say business is being negatively affected as visitor numbers fall because of North Korea`s threats to retaliate over the leafletting.
"We cannot properly run any of our businesses," said Cheon Hwan-sik, a Paju resident, who added that land prices were falling amid fear the North could fire artillery.
There were no reports of any North Korean reaction to Friday`s events, which came as the country celebrated its biggest holiday — the birthday of national founder Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994.
North Korea, which has active nuclear and missile programs, is currently ruled by Kim`s son, Kim Jong-Il, who is apparently grooming his third son, Kim Jong Un, to eventually take power.
Defector Park Sang-hak, an organiser of the leafletting, denounced North Korea and called for its citizens to rise up against the government.
"North Korean people should realise the truth and facts and they should now all stand up to oppose the cruel third-generations succession," he said.
Inter-Korean tensions spiked last year over the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship in which 46 sailors died and a North Korean artillery attack on a front-line South Korean island that killed four people.
South Korea blames North Korea for the ship attack, though Pyongyang has consistently denied any involvement.