NEW YORK, NEW YORK (Nov. 14, 2023) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns the North Korean regime’s recent threats following a September South Korean Constitutional Court decision striking down a law that banned private activists from sending informational leaflets into the dictatorship of North Korea
“Pyongyang’s assertion that such activities constitute psychological warfare is laughable. Psychological warfare is everything North Korea tells its own people. The North Korea threat of a ‘shower of [ammunition] shells’ is an apt illustration of the extremes the regime is willing to go to in order to continue suppressing their own people’s freedom of expression and democracy,” HRF CEO Thor Halvorssen said. “Facing the delicate balance between freedom and security, South Korean society must choose the freedom to live unafraid of the Kim dynasty’s tyranny in the North and instead embrace broad free speech protections that must exist in a democratic society. Free countries should not bow to dictators. Free countries should salute the dignity and humanity of those who live under oppression. And they should treat dictatorships with extreme prejudice. Not doing so will accelerate the slide toward authoritarianism worldwide.”
The South Korean Constitutional Court’s Sept. 26 decision to strike down the anti-leafleting law was a direct response to a complaint submitted by defector-activists from North Korea residing in the South, who have long been engaged in sending leaflets that criticize the North Korean dictatorship, its nuclear weapons ambitions, and expose the dire human rights situation within the country. The use of balloons to launch leaflets with information about the world has been a symbolic act of resistance against Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian regime, as well as one that has yielded tangible results among the North Korean people, who are otherwise denied access to information beyond what their government controls.
“The Kim regime’s reaction underscores the tyrannical paranoia all illegitimate tyrants live under, and the importance of firmly denouncing such threats, which serve only to exacerbate tensions between the two Koreas, as well as of supporting free speech and democracy in the region,” Halvorssen said.
HRF believes that, in these times of heightened military activities in the region and growing global concerns about North Korea’s military nuclear program, it is imperative to maintain democratic values and not compromise on the rights of its citizens.
HRF supports the South Korean government’s commitment to free speech and urges its democratic government to continue to uphold the principles of democracy, free speech, and human rights, despite the Kim regime’s threats. It is essential that the South Korean government remains steadfast in protecting the right of its citizens to disseminate information to North Koreans, even when it involves content that makes the thin-skinned North Korean regime ramp up its aggressive rhetoric.