Activists launch anti-Kim leaflets into North Korea

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean and US activists said on Friday (July 22) that they had balloon-launched hundreds of thousands of leaflets over the border into North Korea, criticising leader Kim Jong Un and Pyongyang's latest ballistic missile tests.

The late-night exercise on Thursday came amid heightened cross-border tensions, with the North responding angrily to the announced deployment of a sophisticated US anti-missile system in South Korea.

About 20 activists from the Seoul-based Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK) and New York-based Human Rights Foundation launched 10 large balloons - carrying 300,000 anti-North leaflets - across the heavily-fortified border, the groups said in a statement.

A photo provided by the activists showed a banner attached to one of the balloons reading: "All humanity condemns the nuclear-obsessed Kim Jong Un who squeezes the blood of his own people to fire rockets!"

The FFNK has staged similar balloon launches for years, despite warnings of North Korean retaliation.

The leaflets usually criticise the North's ruling Kim family and urge people in the isolated country to "rise up."

The latest launch came days after the North test fired two Scud missiles and one intermediate-range Rodong missile in violation of existing UN resolutions.

The widely-condemned tests - personally monitored by Mr Kim - were aimed at simulating possible attacks on South Korean ports and airfields hosting US military targets, the North's state-run media said.

North Korea has threatened "physical action" in response to the recent agreement between Seoul and Washington to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, in South Korea.