Psychological warfare: Why North Korea keeps sending trash balloons to South Korea

South Korea detects another 350 suspected trash balloons as tensions escalate

Stars Insider

25/06/24 | StarsInsider


North and South Korea have had a tumultuous history of conflicts spanning the decades since the Second World War. But divisions between the two countries don’t appear to be dissipating, especially as the North has now revived a military tactic that was last used during the Cold War: using balloons as psychological warfare. More specifically, trash-filled balloons!

Since May 2024, it's estimated that North Korea has sent over 1,000 balloons across the border into South Korea. This move is reportedly retaliation for South Korean activists sending flying leaflets criticizing leader Kim Jong Un to North Korea. On Monday, June 24, the South Korean military detected a further 350 North Korean balloons, suspected to be filled with trash and waste as on previous occasions. The tension between the bordering nations has been escalating in recent days, as South Korea threatens to start playing anti-North Korean propaganda over loudspeakers at the border—a tactic they haven't resorted to in several years. They say whether or not this happens is “up to North Korea’s actions.”

On the other side of the border, Kim Jong Un signed a defense agreement with Russia following a friendly visit from President Vladimir Putin last week. According to Reuters, "The treaty signed by Putin and Kim on Wednesday commits each side to provide immediate military assistance to the other in the event of armed aggression against either one of them." Kim has vowed to expand his nuclear arsenal and threatened to use it against South Korea. 

With so much at stake, why has North Korea stooped to sending trash over the border into the South? And are these balloons dangerous? What's more, why does this conflict have no end in sight? Click through the following gallery to find out.

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