(AA) – A North Korean defector turned activist leader conceded Monday that he has abandoned a widely-anticipated plan to send propaganda-filled packages across the border from South Korea this week.
The revelation came after North Korean threats ahead of a somber anniversary for the South — this Thursday marks five years since the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship.
While Seoul maintains that North Korea was behind the tragedy, which claimed 46 South Korean lives, Pyongyang has refused to accept responsibility.
It was against this backdrop that the Fighters for a Free North Korea planned to dispatch by air their latest batch of anti-North packages — including thousands of copies of ‘The Interview’, a Hollywood movie about the attempted assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
While activists have been sending balloons across the border for years, Pyongyang has become increasingly sensitive to attempts to open the minds of its notoriously guarded people.
Over the weekend, North Korea threatened that it would take military action “without prior warning” against any attempt to send balloons or drones from the South.
The North directed machine gun fire toward South Korea during a balloon launch last October, without causing any casualties.
Speaking to local news agency Yonhap on Monday, the leader of Fighters for a Free North Korea said his group and others will delay taking further action until after Thursday’s anniversary.
Park Sank-hak, who was rescued by South Korean spy agents from an assassination attempt by a fellow North Korean defector in 2011, insisted that the postponement is only conditional upon Pyongyang apologizing for its role in the sinking of the Cheonan.
Earlier in the day, Seoul had repeated its stance that protesters in South Korea enjoy the “basic right” of freedom of speech.
A government spokesperson told reporters that the South would “strongly” respond to any provocations by North Korea.