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Freedom message by balloons

South Korean groups representing North Korean defectors say that they will float newspapers into the communist state by balloon to encourage more people to flee.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2008 03:09 IST

South Korean groups representing North Korean defectors said on Friday that they would float newspapers into the communist state by balloon to encourage more people to flee.

"We're going to send copies of a monthly paper co-published by two of our 28 member organisations by huge balloons to North Korea," Son Jong-Hun told Yonhap news agency.

Son, head of the General Association of North Korea Defectors' Organisations, said the first batch of some 35,000 copies would be sent around next Wednesday.

The two-page tabloid is mainly filled with testimony from North Koreans who settled in South Korea after escaping their impoverished hardline homeland, according to the association.

"The newspaper with a circulation of 100,000 would be sent in two to three separate batches every month," it said.

The papers are printed on plastic to prevent any damage to them on landing. They can also be recycled as windows in rural areas where glass is short.

"Most residents in the reclusive country live without hearing outside news," Son told Yonhap.

"We hope the newspapers will prompt the spread of desire for freedom among the residents by carrying live voices and the experiences of defectors who came to South Korean in search of freedom and human rights."

Some 12,250 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the vast majority of them in recent years. Many are prompted to leave by persistent food shortages in their homeland.

Defector groups have used balloons frequently in the past to float leaflets or small radios across the heavily fortified frontier.