‘The In­ter­view’ DVDs sent by bal­loon into North Korea

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

A South Korean ac­tivist said Wed­nes­day he had launched thou­sands of copies of Hol­ly­wood film “The In­ter­view” into North Korea by bal­loon, ig­nor­ing dire threats of reprisals from Py­ongyang.

The cap­i­tal has la­beled the Seth Ro­gen com­edy about a fic­tional CIA plot to as­sas­si­nate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a “wan­ton act of ter­ror.”

North Korean de­fec­tor-turnedac­tivist Lee Min-Bok said he had car­ried out four cross-bor­der bal­loon launches since Jan­uary — the lat­est one on Satur­day.

On each oc­ca­sion he tied bun­dles car­ry­ing copies of “The In­ter­view” and anti-Py­ongyang leaflets to helium bal­loons, which he then re­leased from the back of a truck.

“I launched thou­sands of copies and about a mil­lion leaflets on Satur­day, near the west­ern part of the bor­der,” Lee told AFP.

All the launches were car­ried out at night with lit­tle or no ad­vance pub­lic­ity, given the sen­si­tiv­ity on both sides.

North Korea has long con­demned the cross-bor­der launches and de­manded that the South Korean au­thor­i­ties step in to pre­vent them.

Last Oc­to­ber North Korea bor­der guards at­tempted to shoot down some bal­loons, trig­ger­ing a brief ex­change of heavy ma­chine gun fire be­tween the two sides.

Py­ongyang is­sued some par­tic­u­larly stern warn­ings against any ef­fort to in­clude copies of “The In­ter­view” in the bal­loon bun­dles, say­ing that any chal­lenge to its “just physi- cal coun­ter­mea­sures” will trig­ger “mer­ci­less re­tal­ia­tory strikes.”

It stands ac­cused by the FBI of be­ing be­hind a dev­as­tat­ing cy­ber attack last Novem­ber on Sony Pic­tures, the stu­dio be­hind the movie.

While ap­peal­ing to ac­tivists to avoid overly pro­vok­ing the North, Seoul in­sists their ac­tions are pro­tected by free­dom of ex­pres­sion prin­ci­ples.

Po­lice have in­ter­vened to pre­vent some launches, but only when there is a prospect of North Korean re­tal­i­a­tion that might en­dan­ger res­i­dents living near the bal­loon launch site.

Lee’s launches were done at night in re­mote lo­ca­tions, and though they were mon­i­tored by lo­cal po­lice, no move was made to stop him.

“The po­lice would have no right to stop me from do­ing this,” Lee said.

“I am al­ways be­ing tailed by po­lice,” he added.

A CNN cam­era crew that fol­lowed Lee on Satur­day filmed him at­tach­ing the bun­dles to the bal­loons in the mid­dle of the night, be­fore re­leas­ing them into the dark­ness.

The bal­loons are wholly at the mercy of the pre­vail­ing winds, and it is im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine how many will ac­tu­ally come down in North Korea.

Seoul’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry, which said it had only be­come aware of Lee’s lat­est launches in the past cou­ple of days, de­clined to com­ment di­rectly on his ef­forts to send copies of the movie.

“Our stance is that we con­tinue to ac­knowl­edge the free­dom of in­di­vid­u­als to pub­li­cize their opin­ions,” a min­istry spokesman said.

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