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South Korea To Suspend Military Pact With North Over Trash Balloon Drama

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South Korea has decided to suspend a 2018 military agreement with North Korea following a provocative campaign by Pyongyang involving balloons carrying trash and animal waste over the border. This decision was announced by the National Security Council of South Korea on Monday, stating that the plan will be presented for cabinet approval on Tuesday.

The council cited “considerable problems in our military’s readiness posture” as the reason for suspending the deal, allowing South Korea to conduct training near the military border and take unspecified “immediate measures” if necessary. The 2018 agreement, a significant outcome of historic meetings between the two Koreas during a thaw in relations under former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, had already been partially frozen last year after North Korea launched a spy satellite.

Relations between the two nations have further deteriorated with North Korea’s recent actions. Since last week, Pyongyang has been sending hundreds of balloons filled with trash and animal faeces, described as “gifts of sincerity,” to the South. Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a prominent spokesperson for Pyongyang, mocked South Korea’s complaints, framing the balloon launches as an exercise of freedom of expression.

The North’s campaign was a response to South Korean activists sending balloons loaded with anti-Pyongyang propaganda, cash, food, and USB drives containing South Korean dramas and music across the border. Despite declaring the campaign effective, Pyongyang announced on Sunday that it would halt the trash balloon launches.

In response to these provocations, South Korea has considered resuming loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border, targeting Kim Jong Un’s regime. This potential move follows the National Security Council’s statement that the ongoing compliance with the 2018 pact had hindered the South’s military readiness.

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