As much as Pyongyang, who attributes the current rupture with Seoul to his activities, seeks to prevent it, Park Sang-hak will continue to “send propaganda balloons” to North Korea, as this well-known North Korean defector said today in an interview with Efe and others. media.RELATED
Park and his NGO, “Fighters for a Free Korea,” have been in the eye of the hurricane since the Kim Jong-un regime was furious at the shipments of balloons they make in early June, an anger that has ultimately led to Pyongyang to cut off communication with Seoul and inter-Korean relations at their worst since 2017.
“I send out pamphlets to inform the North Korean people that if they migrate to places like the South, the United States or Japan, they will not make them into imperialist puppets as the regime believes them to do,” says Park, 52, in a park. from the Gangnam District in Seoul, where he has gathered some foreign correspondents.
Seoul this week activated police devices at the border to prevent new balloon releases, although Park has said he plans to do it again – probably overnight, as he h as been doing for the past three years – on June 25, the date marked as being 70. anniversary of the start of the Korean War (1950-1953).
MANY MORE THAN PAPERS
In addition to helium, thousands of messages printed on polyethylene (he usually sends 50,000 in one go) that narrate the crimes of the Kim family, USB with South Korean or US series and films, are in the balloons. showing the standard of living in these countries or the great demand for North Koreans to read the texts: dollar bills.
“When they go looking for them they go looking for the dollar, because they have already heard that the leaflets carry dollars, and on the black market a dollar is worth about 70,000 or 80,000 North Korean won and that is equivalent to about 13 kilos of rice, which means a lot for them, “he explains.
It is not the first time that Park, arrived in the South in 1999, and his group, made up mainly of deserters and with which he has been sending balloons with propaganda to the North since 2006, have unleashed the wrath of the regime.
Between 2014 and 2015, their activities greatly increased the tension on the border, as the northern army shot the balloons to prevent them from reaching their territory, which ended up causing exchanges of fire between troops from both Koreas.
Earlier, in 2011, the regime hired another deserter to try to assassinate him, and that is why several policemen on the fringes of the park guard the perimeter so that no one approaches.
MORE SECURITY AND MORE FUNDS
Since the beginning of June, not only has this security apparatus multiplied, so have donations -mostly from South Koreans and Koreans residing in the US- to their NGO, which “now represent five times more than received on average each month in 2019. “
According to Park, the attitude of the South Korean government of President Moon Jae-in, which has denounced his group – something that has sparked criticism from groups such as Human Rights Watch – claiming, for example, violation of air traffic law, has contributed for many people to decide to donate.
“Moon is taking the side of Kim Jong-un. He is destroying the voices of the deserters. I really wonder if we are in Seoul or Pyongyang,” he exclaims with a tone of rage typical of many deserters who, like him, discovered that his relatives had been punished or executed after their flight was discovered.
“The paradox is that it is the regime that is violent, while we only try to help people,” he insists.
VERY REAL ANGER
Although his group has only sent three games of lampoons so far this year (compared to 11 in 2019), he believes that the Kim are really angry with the balloons despite the fact that many analysts think that Pyongyang is using them as an excuse as part of a pressure strategy on Seoul.
Park, born in Hyesan (border with China) in a wealthy family and involved in the regime’s espionage apparatuses, maintains that two episodes have been especially unnerving to the North Korean leadership, which is why today they announced the sending of 12 millions of pamphlets contrary to Moon al Sur.
On the one hand, he recalls that on April 19 his group sent a drone with 10,000 leaflets to Pyongyang (“we could throw leaflets on the roof of Kim Jong-un if we set our mind to it,” he says).
On the other hand, he believes that the leader himself could find one of the leaflets sent to him on May 31 during a visit to Yangdok, about 80 kilometers east of the northern capital.
Andrés Sánchez Braun