Lee Min-bok launched balloons towards Pyongyang at around 8.50 PM on October 6th, NFI has learned. The launch took place at this time as due to typhoon winds, the wind direction had turned favourable.
On the evening of October 5th, while South Korean residents were enjoying the Yeoido fireworks displays, a batch of 42 balloons were also launched, as Lee took advantage of the Pyongyang-bound wind.
He has continued to launch balloons in secret whenever the winds have been favourable, although the much publicized launches led by another refugee activist, Park Sang-hak, have been banned by South Korean police in the past months.
On October 3rd, DPRK state media outlet Uriminzokkiri strongly criticized Park Sang-hak, saying that if he launched the balloons, it would be regarded a provocation and he would be responsible for the “catastrophe” that would follow.
Uriminzokkiri stated, “These ‘defector’ organisations led by trash such as Park, they threaten to release so-called ‘leaflets’ under the direction of the puppet political party on October 4th.”
It continued, “It is a fact that this balloon game played by human scum takes place under the manipulation of the puppet administration… Whether it is the noise made by people in the puppet administration, or acts of these pieces of living waste material, no one can deny that these are attempts to worsen North-South relations, a plot to harm us.”
On October 2nd, Park had announced that he would launch 200,000 leaflets with “Let’s overthrow Kim Jong-Un and the third generation of the world’s worst dictatorship!” along with one thousand US$1 notes, 500 human rights videos on CDs, and 300 pamphlets about South Korea.
The launch did take place on the 4th, and Park told AFP it was to criticize North Korea for having turned down requests for inter-Korean family reunions. The launch happened in the presence of South Korean police, after three previous planned launches were stopped due to local residents’ concerns about retaliation by North Korea.
But only days before, on the evening of September 28th and on the following afternoon, Lee Min-bok successfully launched balloons in the direction of North Korea.
Additional launches led by Lee Min-bok also took place during the lunar festivities, on September 22nd and 14th. Before that, he made successful launches on September 5th and 6th, from Yoncheon and Kanghwado respectively. These were the first launches after a lull of 37 days, in which winds had not been suitable for the release of balloons.