SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea said Sunday it’ll soon take “unbearable” retaliatory steps against North Korea over its launch of trash-carrying balloons across the border and other provocations.

In the past week, North Korea floated hundreds of huge balloons to dump rubbish on South Korea, simulated nuclear strikes against its neighbor and allegedly jammed GPS navigation signals in the South in an escalation of animosities between the rivals.

South Korea’s national security director Chang Ho-jin said Sunday that top officials at an emergency meeting decided to take “unbearable” measures against North Korea in response to its recent series of provocative acts.

Chang called the North’s balloon campaign and its alleged GPS signal jamming “absurd, irrational acts of provocation that a normal country can’t imagine.” He accused North Korea of aiming to cause “public anxieties and chaos” in South Korea.

South Korean officials didn’t say what retaliatory steps they would take. But many observers say South Korea will likely resume front-line loudspeaker broadcasts into North Korea that include criticism of its abysmal human rights situation, world news and K-pop songs. North Korea is extremely sensitive to such broadcasts because most of its 26 million people have no official access to foreign TV and radio programs.

Earlier Sunday, South Korea’s military said that more than 700 balloons flown from North Korea were additionally discovered in various parts of South Korea. Tied to the balloons were cigarette butts, scraps of cloth, waste paper and vinyl, but no dangerous substances, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It was North Korea’s second balloon activity in less than a week. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, South Korean officials said they had found about 260 North Korean balloons carrying trash and manure.

There have been no reports of major damage in South Korea.

North Korea said its balloon floating was in reaction to South Korean activists flying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets via their own balloons across the border. North Korea often responds with fury to balloons from South Korea. In 2020, North Korea exploded an empty, South Korean-built liaison office in the North in anger over the South Korean balloon activities.

Experts say North Korea’s balloon campaign, reportedly the first of its kind in seven years, is meant to stoke an internal divide in South Korea over its conservative government’s tough policy on the North. They say North Korea is also expected to further ramp up tensions ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.

Since 2022, North Korea has sharply increased a pace of weapons tests to build a bigger nuclear arsenal. Last week, it fired a barrage of nuclear-capable weapons into the sea in a drill simulating a preemptive attack on South Korea.



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