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NKorea threatens to suspend complex over leaflets

South Korean activists and defectors release balloons loaded with propaganda leaflets from a boat in waters near the sea border with North Korea on October 27, 2008. North and South Korea held military talks on October 27 despite worsening relations as South Korean activists floated propaganda leaflets into the communist state. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Oct 27, 2008
North Korea threatened Monday to evict South Koreans from a joint industrial complex in protest at cross-border propaganda, as activists launched balloons loaded with leaflets denouncing the communist state.

The North made its demand during talks between military officers, in what was only the second official contact between the two sides for eight months.

"The North Korean side pointed out that the spread of leaflets is on the rise and demanded our side take immediate measures to halt their distribution," Colonel Lee Sang-Sheol of the Seoul defence ministry told reporters.

He said they repeated demands first made at an October 2 military meeting, that Seoul stop the leaflets being launched or risk eviction from the Kaesong industrial estate.

North Korea has cut off almost all official contacts with the South since conservative President Lee Myung-Bak took office in Seoul in February and took a firmer stance in cross-border relations.

After their first reconciliation summit in 2000, the two nations agreed to halt government-level propaganda, a feature of the Cold War era.

But Seoul-based private groups have continued their leaflet drops, despite pleas from the South Korean government and from businesses with factories in Kaesong.

Eight activists and defectors floated about 40,000 leaflets by balloon into the North Monday from a boat near the eastern sea border, shouting "Down with (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-Il!"

They contained messages urging North Koreans to rise up against Kim, and describing him as a "murderous" dictator. The leaflets repeated claims that he suffers from paralysis following a reported stroke in August.

"Kim Jong-Il is the most wicked dictator in the world. You should stage a struggle to overthrow his military dictatorship," a typical leaflet read.

Choi Sung-Young, an activist trying to locate South Koreans abducted by Pyongyang during the Cold War, said his group released four large balloons loaded with the leaflets -- as well as with US and Chinese currency.

"We will float another 60,000 leaflets later in the day from a location west of Seoul," Choi told AFP by phone.

He said about 30 plastic bottles containing rice were also released into the sea. "We hope the tidal current will bring rice bottles to our hungry brothers in the North."

Some leaflets contained a detailed list of South Korean abductees held in the North, he said.

By official count 494 South Koreans, many of them fishermen, were seized in the decades following the Korean War. In addition, Seoul says more than 500 of its prisoners of war were never sent home.

North Korea denies holding any South Koreans against their will even though some have managed to escape to the South.

The stated purpose of Monday's 20-minute meeting, inside the Demilitarised Zone which divides the peninsula, was to discuss improving military hotlines.

The two Koreas, which have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended only in an armistice, have nine military hotlines but one of is out of service due to technical problems.

The North asked the South to provide communications equipment and materials and the South said it would study the request.

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NKorea extracted 30.8 kg of plutonium: report
Seoul (AFP) Oct 24, 2008
North Korea has told China, chair of six-party disarmament talks, it had extracted a total of 30.8 kilograms (68 pounds) of plutonium from its Yongbyon nuclear complex, a report said Friday.

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