Talking Trash

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South Korea plans to suspend a 2018 military pact with North Korea, the government announced Monday, after tensions escalated in recent weeks because Pyongyang sent hundreds of balloons carrying trash to its southern neighbor, the Independent reported Monday.

Last month, North Korea began launching balloons filled with cigarette butts, waste paper and vinyl to South Korea, spreading garbage across the country.

Over the weekend, Pyongyang sent out around 600 trash balloons, prompting anger from South Korean officials.

On Monday, South Korea’s National Security Council proposed suspending the military agreement put in place to lower military tensions between the two neighbors.

A full suspension would allow Seoul to conduct military drills near the border and take immediate measures in response to North Korea’s provocations.

Soon after Seoul’s announcement, North Korean officials said they were suspending the launching of the garbage-filled inflatables.

Observers said Pyongyang’s move was part of a retaliatory campaign against propaganda balloons sent to North Korea from defectors and South Korean activists. The propaganda inflatables contained anti-Pyongyang leaflets with food, medicine, money, and USB sticks containing popular K-pop songs.

North Korean officials had previously complained about the propaganda balloons and warned it would resume its trash deliveries if activists in Seoul did not refrain from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

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