July 16, 2024

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South Korea Passes Law to Ban Anti-North Korea Leaflets Amid Activists’ Outcry | Globe News

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s parliament handed a invoice on Monday to ban the launching of propaganda leaflets into North Korea, a shift that was condemned by legal rights activists as a violation of freedom of speech.

Groups operate by North Korean defectors and other campaigners have for many years despatched anti-Pyongyang leaflets – alongside food, medication, $1 payments, mini radios and USB sticks that contains South Korean news and dramas – into the North, commonly by balloon or in bottles on border rivers. North Korea has extended denounced the practice.

The amendment to the Growth of Inter-Korean Relations Act bars any scattering of printed supplies, items, cash and other goods of value across the intensely fortified frontier.

It also restricts loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts, which the South’s military services as soon as championed as component of psychological warfare from the North till it withdrew the tools adhering to a 2018 inter-Korean summit.

Any violation of the regulation, which will choose effect in a few months, is punishable by up to 3 years in prison or 30 million gained ($27,500) in fines.

The change was authorised despite filibuster efforts from opposition lawmakers to block the super-bulk of the ruling celebration of President Moon Jae-in, who is keen to boost cross-border ties.

The monthly bill was introduced in June by ruling celebration lawmakers after Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warned Seoul really should enact a legislation to prevent leaflets or facial area the “worst period” of relations.

“They were attempting to place Kim Yo Jong’s order into law at her single term,” Tae Yong-ho, an opposition lawmaker and previous North Korean diplomat, explained in his 10-hour filibuster speech, introducing the monthly bill would only assist Kim’s govt carry on “enslaving” its men and women.

Extra than 20 defectors and legal rights groups in South Korea vowed to challenge the law’s constitutionality, although Human Rights Watch identified as the ban Seoul’s “misguided approach” to win Kim’s favour by cracking down on its own citizens.

Chris Smith, a U.S. Republican congressman co-chairing a bipartisan human legal rights commission, issued a statement criticising the modification as “sick-conceived, scary” for facilitating the imprisonment of individuals for just sharing information and facts.

When asked about Smith’s statement, Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, explained the bill was a “minimum exertion to safeguard the life and protection of residents in border locations”.

“It is a blanket ban that criminalises sending remittances to people in North Korea and denies their rights to outside facts,” stated Shin Hee-seok of the Transitional Justice Doing work Team, a single of the 20 teams.

“These appeasement initiatives only risk inviting additional North Korean provocations and calls for.”

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin Editing by Alex Richardson)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.