Residents in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province clashed with activists who wanted to launch helium balloons carrying propaganda leaflets to North Korea last Friday, it has belatedly emerged.
Police said some 150 activists, defectors and people with family roots in the North's North Pyongan Province attempted to clandestinely launch propaganda leaflets from Cheorwon last Friday but around 20 locals found out about the plan and stopped them for fear of retaliatory North Korean artillery attacks.
The locals called on the activists to stop sending the leaflets to North Korea from their region and threatened to physically block any further attempts. "Locals have become quite agitated since the North Korean threat" last week to strike South Korean sources of propaganda, a police spokesman said.
Lee Min-bok, the head of one group sending propaganda leaflets, said, "Around 20 residents and officials prevented us from floating leaflets. We pulled out after the clash, but I went back by myself around 9 p.m. and launched about 1.3 million leaflets."
He pledged to send more balloons from Baeknyeong Island on Friday to mark the anniversary of the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan.