North Korea's military has threatened to blow up balloons that South Korean activists plan to send over the border carrying thousands of copies of the controversial film "The Interview," calling the upcoming launch a "declaration of war."
As previously reported by the Gospel Herald, South Korean activist Park Sang-hak, partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, plans to use 33-foot hydrogen balloons to start dropping 10,000 copies of the movie and 500,000 propaganda leaflets over North Korea on or around March 26.
"North Korea's absolute leadership will crumble if the idolization of leader Kim breaks down," Park explained.
"I believe that if we can get 100 times more balloons, then we will make [North Korean dictator] Kim Jong Un paranoid-sending more and more balloons to North Korea is more effective than sending a bomb on North Korea," he added."The thing is that if South Korea or the United States Air Force dropped a bomb, there's a way that [North Korea] would react to it, but the thing is with leaflets there's no way to react."
However, on Tuesday, North Korea's military units released a strongly-worded statement warning against such endeavours. "All the firepower strike means of the frontline units of the (Korean People's Army) will launch without prior warning... to blow up balloons," the military said, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea added that the launch would constitute "the gravest politically-motivated provocation" against North Korea and "a de facto declaration of a war."
"[The launch is aimed at] deliberately escalating tension on the Korean peninsula where the situation has reached the brink of a war due to... joint war rehearsals" by South Korea and the United States, it continued. North Korea also added that any challenge to its "just physical countermeasures" will ignite "merciless retaliatory strikes."
While Seoul initially backed the activists, who believe they're exercising their right of freedom of expression by carrying out the launches, the South recently retracted their support to avoid provoking their neighbors. However, South Korea's military has insisted it will retaliate if the North opens fire on its territory.
South Korean officials have previously expressed anger over "The Interview," a Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy about an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Last year, Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for the regime in Pyongyang, said his country was "insulted" by the plot and alleged that "a film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the US has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine."
In the weeks leading up to the film's December 25 release, Sony Pictures, which backed the film, was the victim of a major cyberhack which saw thousands of intimate documents leaked online. The North Korean government has since denied allegations from the US government that the isolated country was behind the attack.