South Korea activists to send 10,000 copies of Hollywood satire The Interview to North Korea

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean activists vowed Tuesday to sneak copies of Hollywood satire The Interview across the border by propaganda balloon later this month, in defiance of North Korea's repeated threats.

Up to 10,000 copies of the film - a comedy about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - and 500,000 political leaflets are scheduled for a balloon-launch around March 26.

An earlier plan by activists and the US-based Human Rights Foundation to send 100,000 copies of the film in January was postponed until after last month's Lunar New Year.

However they went ahead with plans to send 100,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

The upcoming launch will mark the five-year anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010, with the loss of 46 sailors. The South pinned the blame on the North and effectively froze all inter-Korean trade and investment ties.

No details have been given about the content of the leaflets, though propaganda sent in the past has denounced North Korea's ruling family.

Seoul insists the activists have a democratic right to send the leaflets, but has appealed for restraint to avoid overly provoking the North.

"We will set the exact date and location for our operation in consideration of weather conditions, but it will not be publicised," said Mr Park Sang Hak, a former defector who has led a series of balloon launches.

The North has already warned that Mr Park will "pay for his crimes in blood" if copies of the film make it across the border.

On March 2, the North's state-run website Uriminzokkiri warned that Pyongyang would respond to any balloon launches with "not just a few shots of gunfire but cannons or missiles".

"Nobody can stop it. I will keep sending leaflets into North Korea at the risk of my life," Mr Park said, adding he has always prepared to face down the North's threats.

Pyongyang, which refers to Mr Park as "human scum", has long condemned the balloon launches and in recent months has stepped up its demands for Seoul to ban them.

In October last year North Korean border guards attempted to shoot down some balloons, triggering a brief exchange of heavy machine-gun fire between the two sides.

Local residents living near the launch sites have complained that the activists are putting their lives at risk by making them potential targets for North Korean retaliation.

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