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N. Korea’s garbage-filled balloons lead to disgust among North Koreans

In late May, North Korea sent two batches of balloons filled with trash – including cigarette butts and waste paper – across the border as its promised response to the launch of balloons filled with propaganda leaflets by South Korean groups. The garbage-filled balloons was a source of fatigue, anxiety and irritation for people across South Korea, causing varying degrees of damage, including a broken windshield.

In response, the South Korean government threatened to resume propaganda broadcasts through loudspeakers placed at the border. Just hours later, North Korea announced that it would stop flying garbage across the border, while warning that it was prepared to take further action if South Korea launched more propaganda leaflets. The North promised it would launch trash on a scale a hundred times greater than any leaflets it discovered.

While North Korea’s launch of the garbage balloons has been a hot topic in South Korea in recent days, how have North Korean residents reacted to the news?

Daily NK reached out to two North Koreans living in the border area – a fifty-something resident of Yanggang Province (“A”) and a twenty-something resident of North Pyongan Province (“B”) – to get their opinions on North Korea’s recent policies and behavior toward the South.

Below is Daily NK’s interview with the two North Koreans.

Daily NK: Are you aware that North Korea has flown balloons filled with garbage into South Korea?

A: I heard about that from Chinese traders. After abandoning the unification line that dates back to the Great Leader [Kim Il Sung], now they’re launching trash in balloons. It’s really pathetic. The Great Leader never did anything so crass. I just don’t get why they’re stooping to this level. I also don’t understand why they’re wasting time on this kind of thing when there must be more important things to do.

B: I’m aware. In all honesty, I think that launching balloons full of trash after all the development we’ve achieved reflects poorly on us. I think the young generation needs to find better ways to express our position. And even if we can’t cooperate with each other, I think that seeking a form of peaceful coexistence would be better than stirring up conflict like this. I may not know everything that’s going on, but I see these boorish balloon launches as a national disgrace.

Daily NK: How do you think policy toward South Korea today is different from how it was under Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il?

A: The Great Leader focused on national reconciliation and cooperation, and the General [Kim Jong Il] prioritized Koreans handling things among themselves [urriminjokgirri]. In particular, the General never split the nation in two like this, even when he was promoting his Songun [military-first] revolution. I think they’re being too emotional about things right now.

B: I don’t know the details about the state’s past policy toward South Korea. However, I think its current policy is too petty and belligerent. When the South Korean president came to Pyongyang and met [Kim Jong Un] in Panmunjom just a few years ago, there seemed to be room for dialogue, at least, but that seems to be completely gone now.

Daily NK: What do you think about the current South Korean policy?

A: I’m really worried. I’m concerned that if they maintain this policy, our country’s image will get even worse, and we’ll be even more isolated on the international stage.

B: I’m hoping to see change. Brothers may squabble, but they come together in times of crisis – that’s what family is for. In the same way, I believe that our country can build a better future through cooperation with South Korea, considering we’ve shared the same land for generations.

Daily NK: How do you think launching trash balloons will impact inter-Korean relations?

A: This kind of behavior will just further weaken inter-Korean relations. State propagandists say that depending on foreign powers is the road to ruin, but that same government is proactively courting friendly ties with Russia and China while launching garbage at our compatriots in South Korea. I’m sure that South Koreans find this repulsive, so in the end I think it will have a negative impact on us.

B: This is totally unhelpful for inter-Korean relations. If anything, it will just further tarnish our national image for South Koreans.

Daily NK: How have North Koreans responded to the launch of the trash balloons?

A: People who have heard about the balloons in various ways have been mortified and say they feel ashamed.

B: Many of the younger people think this kind of behavior is pointless. It’s commonly thought we ought to communicate with South Korea in a way that would preserve our nation’s dignity.

Daily NK: Do you think there are ways to send a message to South Korea other than by lobbing trash across the border?

A: Of course. Even feuding neighbors can talk through things. I just wish our two countries, being people from the same nation, would talk to each other and try to understand our respective positions.

B: There are obviously better ways. When the South Korean president gave a speech at the May Day Stadium, no young people in North Korea expected or even wanted unification to be right around the corner. We just wanted peaceful travel between South and North Korea, so we can hold hands and sing together. Why can’t we just share our hearts with each other and work out whatever needs to be worked out? At any rate, I think allowing travel between the two sides would be a good approach.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

June 10, 2024 at 01:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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