Posted October. 29, 2012 23:06,
Residents and merchants based in Imjingak, Gyeonggi Province, are butting heads with right-wing civic groups who seek to drop propagandistic fliers with balloons on North Korea.
Some 40 members of a coalition to send fliers to the North comprising more than 20 civic groups planned to drop the fliers at 11 a.m. Monday at Mangbae-dan in Imjingak, which is part of Paju, Gyeonggi Province. But more than 100 Imjingak merchants and residents occupied the venue before the arrival of coalition members early in the morning and staged a sit-in rally, demanding that the group stop its flier distribution plan.
In the face of strong resistance by the residents, the coalition changed the venue of its campaign to Pyeonghwa (Peace) Nuri Parking Lot in Imjingak some 500 meters from the original site, and pushed ahead with the distribution of fliers. With police monitoring the situation, the group attached more than 30,000 fliers onto four large balloons and sent them to the North.
Conflict erupted after residents rushed to the parking lot en masse after seeing fliers being launched, and attempted to block members of the civic group who were about to leave the site. In the process, residents used a hammer to strike the windshield of a vehicle loaded with gas tanks and owned by a civic group, but no injuries were reported.
One resident said, We let the vehicle in because conservative groups claimed it was a vehicle for videotaping the event. But it turned out to be a vehicle with gas tanks to launch the fliers.
The coalition said, The distribution of fliers to North Korea constitutes freedom of expression that is guaranteed by the Constitution, and no one can block it.
Physical clashes between the two sides ended about 10 minutes later, when police opened a path for the civic groups to pass through.
The coalition then changed the venue again to Tongil (Unification) Park Parking Lot near Mount Odu Observatory, and sent an additional 20,000 fliers via three large balloons at around 12:30 p.m. before ending its campaign.
Merchants and residents of Imjingak on Friday had applied to hold protests with Paju police through Nov. 25 to prevent the flier campaign. As such, civic groups and defector organizations involved in the movement will likely clash again with Imjingak merchants and residents for the time being.
On October 22, defector groups attempted to send fliers to the North via Imjingak but sent them in Ganghwa Island off Incheon instead. This was after police and residents blocked them in the wake of the Norths threat to launch a strike if the fliers were sent.