Seoul: South Korean activists floated balloons carrying tens of thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea today, eluding police who had disrupted an earlier launch attempt due to threats from North Korea.
North Korea`s military warned last week that it would strike if the South Korean activists carried through with their plan to fly balloons carrying the propaganda leaflets across the border.
South Korea pledged to retaliate if it was attacked. South Korean police, citing security concerns, had sent hundreds of officers today to seal off roads and prevent the activists and other people from gathering at an announced launch site near the border.
Residents in the area were also asked to evacuate to underground facilities, according to local official Kim Jin-a.
Later in the day, some of the activists, mostly North Korean defectors, moved to another site near the border that was not guarded by police and carried out the launch of the balloons.
South Korea`s Defense Ministry said it was closely monitoring North Korea`s military movements but there were no suspicious activities.
Before taking action today, the South Korean government had implored activists to stop their campaign, but had cited freedom of speech in not making further attempts to intervene.
South Korean activists have in the past sent leaflets across the border, and North Korea has issued similar threats to attack without following through.
But Seoul`s Yonhap news agency reported today that the ban on entering the border area was imposed as South Korea detected that North Korea had uncovered artillery muzzle covers and deployed troops to artillery positions in possible preparation for an attack.
Yonhap cited no source for the information. Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters today that North Korea was believed to have acted in line with carrying out its threat.
He declined to elaborate on the North`s army movement as that was confidential military information.