North Korea flies trash balloons over the South as Kim doubles down on sat ambitions

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SEOUL, South Korea, May 29, (AP): North Korea flew hundreds of balloons carrying trash and manure toward South Korea in one of its most bizarre provocations against its rival in years, prompting the South’s military to mobilize chemical and explosive response teams to recover objects and debris in different parts of the country.
The balloon campaign came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged his military scientists to overcome a failed satellite launch and continue developing space-based reconnaissance capabilities, which he described as crucial for countering US and South Korean military activities, state media said Wednesday.
In his first public comments about the launch failure, Kim also warned of unspecified “overwhelming actions” against South Korea over an exercise involving 20 fighter jets near the inter-Korean border hours before North Korea’s failed launch on Monday. In a speech Tuesday, Kim described the South Korean response as a “hysterical attack formation flight and strike drill” and “direct military challenge” toward North Korea, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea also has been flying large numbers of trash-carrying balloons toward the South since Tuesday night, in an apparent retaliation against South Korean activists for flying anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border.
The South’s military said about 260 North Korean balloons were found dropped in various parts of the country as of Wednesday afternoon and were being recovered by military rapid response and explosive clearance teams. The military said the balloons brought various types of trash and manure but it so far found no human excrement. It advised civilians not to touch the objects flown from North Korea and to report to military or police after discovering them.
Photos released by the military showed trash scattered across highways and roads in different parts of the country. In the capital, Seoul, military officials found what appeared to be a timer that was likely designed to pop the bags of trash midair. In the central South Chungcheong province, two huge balloons carrying an un-popped plastic bag filled with dirt-like substances were seen at a road.

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