Anti-North Korea activists to be questioned in Seoul

Anti-North Korea activists to be questioned in Seoul
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South Korean police plan to question two activists accused of sending anti-North Korean messages across the national border, exacerbating tensions with Pyongyang, officials said Tuesday.

An agency official told The Associated Press the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency is questioning North Korean refugee Park Sang-hak, who fastened anti-Pyongyang fliers to balloons before sending them across the border, and his brother Jung-oh, who did the same using plastic bottles sent across the maritime line separating the two countries.   

Police raided the brothers’ offices last week and seized materials including computer files, cellphone data and leaflets, although the officer told the AP they are still investigating whether the brothers have committed any crimes.

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Pyongyang has said it considers the Parks’ campaign and Seoul’s failure to stop it as an act of aggression, specifically citing it earlier in June when North Korea blew up an empty liaison office within its own borders, according to the AP.

South Korean officials told police they were concerned the Parks are worsening North-South tensions and putting South Koreans living near the border at particular risk, the AP reported.

Officials in a border province have also accused a handful of activists, the Parks’ group among them, of embezzlement and fraud relating to donations.

Park Sang-hak told reporters he does not intend to halt his campaign and suggested the police’s moves were indicative of President Moon Jae-in showing deference to the North, accusing the government of “gagging its people and destroying freedom of speech after succumbing” to Pyongyang.

The North last week said it would postpone a series of planned actions to undo reconciliation deals with its neighbor, defraying tensions somewhat, according to the AP. The isolated nation, under pressure from both U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, is believed by some experts to be attempting to extract international concessions to offset that pressure.