North Korea to Drop 12 Million Propaganda Leaflets as 'Punishment' on South

North Korea said Monday it was planning to drop 12 million propaganda leaflets across the border into South Korea in what would be a violation of a 2018 agreement banning hostile acts between the two countries.

South Korea has asked North Korea to put a halt to its plans, which North Korean officials said would serve as retribution for the recent distribution of political leaflets by South Koreans near the border.

Though South Korean officials have publicly spoken out against such actions by its citizens and said the government plans to curtail those efforts in the future, civilians continue to send political news across the northern border, with the next flyer dump planned to take place later this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.

"We, clearly aware that leaflet scattering is the violation of the north-south agreement, do not have any intent to reconsider or change our plan at a time when the North-South relations have already been broken down," a spokesperson for the United Front Department of Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea told DPRK Today.

"The time for retaliatory punishment is drawing near," the North Korean–run Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korean demonstrators
North Korean students take part in a rally holding a banner reading: "Tear up the 'defectors from the north' who are the betrayers of the nation and human scums!" in Pyongyang on June 8. On Monday, South Korea asked North Korea to refrain from sending 12 million propaganda leaflets across the border as tensions remained high between the two countries. KIM WON JIN/AFP via Getty Images

An image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency appeared to show four workers assembling stacks of leaflets that the government has said it will float across the border using balloons and other devices.

Jeong Kyeong-doo, South Korea's defense minister, told the Associated Press the military would have to respond if unidentified objects begin flying over the border. How exactly the military would react would depend on the types of devices the North Koreans used, Kyeong-doo said.

While North Korean officials have said their leaflet distribution plans were made in response to similar actions recently taken in the South, tensions have escalated in recent weeks as the sister of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un announced the severing of all communications between the two countries earlier this month.

Shortly after North Korea made its leaflet distribution plans public, a spokesperson for the Unification Ministry in Seoul urged the North to reconsider, telling the Associated Press the action was "not helpful to South-North [Korea] relations at all."

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment in time for publication.

From its perspective, the North Korean government has said the 2018 agreement it had with South Korea has already been broken.

"We would like to clarify once again that the retaliatory campaign for scattering leaflets towards the South which is being planned as wished by all the Koreans will neither be bound to any agreement and principle nor be put into any consideration," the United Front Department of Central Committee spokesperson told DPRK Today.

"When they are put in our shoes, the South Korean authorities will be able to understand even a bit how disgustedly we looked at them and how offending it was for us," the spokesperson said.