South Korean activists launch anti-North leaflet campaign

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean activists on Saturday launched around 200,000 anti-North leaflets across the border, a move that will anger Pyongyang which insists Seoul should forcibly prevent such events.

Around 30 campaigners led by a former North Korean defector Park Sang Hak sent bundles of the leaflets, attached to large helium balloons, from the border city of Paju in a bid to urge the North to end human rights abuses.

"Down with Kim Jong Un's hereditary dictatorship," read a slogan scribbled on one of the balloons, which the activists hoped would be blown by winds into the North over the heavily-militarised border. The leaflets were sent in packages that also contained 2,000 US$1 bills, 400 DVDs detailing human rights abuses in the North and 300 booklets boasting of the South's economic achievements.

"We launched the leaflets in order to inform North Koreans that (the) international community is doing its best to help bring them liberty and rights," Mr Park told journalists.

A group of nine leftist activists staged a rally nearby, protesting that the leaflet launch would only raise cross-border tensions instead of improving rights conditions in the North.

On Thursday, during a UN review in Geneva of the isolated Asian country's rights record, diplomats urged North Korea to immediately halt a litany of abuses and crimes against humanity.

But North Korea - backed by its main ally, China - hit back at the criticism, saying a recent report by UN investigators was designed to "defame" the country.

At rare high-level talks in February, the two Koreas reached an accord which included a commitment by both sides to stop trading verbal insults. But the agreement quickly degenerated, with both sides accusing one another of continuing to slander their respective leaders.