South Korea Spots Another 350 North Korean Balloons Amid Escalating Tensions

North Korea Sends Balloons with Trash and Feces into South Korea Amid Rising Tensions

South Korea detects 350 North Korean balloons presumed to carry waste, escalating the ongoing tit-for-tat exchange and heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Seol, Bollywood Fever: South Korea has reported the sighting of another 350 North Korean balloons, suspected of carrying waste, on Monday, as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to rise.

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, a suspected balloon was spotted flying in northern Gyeonggi Province, near Seoul, around 9 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET). Approximately 100 of these balloons fell within South Korean regions, mainly in northern Gyeonggi Province and the capital, Seoul. So far, no hazardous substances have been found.

Seoul’s Metropolitan government issued a push notification alerting citizens to the presence of a North Korean balloon over Seoul and advising them to avoid touching any downed balloons and report sightings to authorities.

In response to the balloon activity, the South Korean military has warned it might restart loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts at the border, a practice paused in recent years. “Our military is ready to immediately start anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts and will operate with flexibility according to the strategical and operational situation,” stated the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday.

North Korea Sends Balloons with Trash and Feces into South Korea Amid Rising Tensions

Since May, North Korea has sent over 1,000 balloons towards the South as reprisals for South Korean activists flying anti-North Korean leaflets critical of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Last Thursday, a South Korean advocacy group launched 20 large balloons carrying thousands of leaflets and USB sticks with South Korean entertainment towards North Korea. The next day, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warned of impending “trouble.”

“When you do something you were clearly warned not to do, it’s only natural that you will find yourself dealing with something you didn’t have to,” she stated.

A South Korean analysis of balloons sent between late May and early June revealed the presence of parasites in the soil, which may have originated from human feces. The analysis detected roundworms, whipworms, and larva currens, along with other waste materials such as cloth and wastepaper, but found no risk of contamination or infectious disease.

Additionally, the balloons carried damaged clothes from a South Korean brand, signaling hostility towards South Korean goods, as well as clothes with imitations of Disney characters.

The latest balloon incident comes amid heightened tensions and a diplomatic impasse on the Korean Peninsula. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a defense agreement with North Korea as talks on its denuclearization efforts have stalled. Kim Jong Un has vowed to expand North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and threatened to use it against the South.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea over the weekend ahead of trilateral exercises with South Korea and Japan near the peninsula. This is part of a series of U.S. military moves to affirm Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to its ally in South Korea.

On Monday, U.S. and South Korean officials signed a new memorandum of understanding on diplomatic intelligence sharing and analysis. Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. officials also held a trilateral call, issuing a joint statement expressing “grave concern” over the deepening security cooperation between Russia and North Korea.

“The United States, ROK, and Japan condemn in the strongest possible terms the deepening military cooperation between the DPRK and Russia, including continued arms transfers from the DPRK to Russia that prolong the suffering of the Ukrainian people, violate multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and threaten stability in both Northeast Asia and Europe,” the statement said.

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Pooja Chauhan

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