Fighting North Korea with balloons, TV shows and leaflets

FILE - In this April 15, 2011 file photo, Park Sang Hak, center, a refugee from the North who now runs the group Fighters for a Free North Korea from a small Seoul office, and South Korean conservative activists prepare to release balloons bearing leaflets condemning North Korean leader during an anti-North Korea rally against “The Day of the Sun,” the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth 99 years, at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea. In South Korea, political activists send thousands of leaflets, DVDs and flash drives every year across the border into North Korea, mostly by balloon, hoping to bring to the isolated country. The balloons read “Overthrow Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship.” (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, file)


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In South Korea, a disparate and colorful collection of activists is taking on one of the world’s most isolated nations.

Their weapon of choice: homemade hot air balloons that float over the North Korean border and carry in the outside world.

Some activists send up plastic leaflets that weigh less than a feather and flutter down from the clouds with calls for democracy, or blurry cartoons ridiculing Pyongyang’s ruler. Some send flash drives loaded with soap operas, or mini-documentaries about the vast wealth of southern corporations.

Their South Korean critics see them as little more than attention-hungry cranks who spend much of their time exchanging insults. But the activists look across the border and see a country they believe they are already changing.

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