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Activists threaten to send “The Interview” to N.Korea

Workers remove a poster for "The Interview" from a billboard in Hollywood, California, December 18, 2014/AFP

Workers remove a poster for “The Interview” from a billboard in Hollywood, California, December 18, 2014/AFP

SEOUL, Jan 20- South Korean activists threatened on Tuesday to sneak copies of the Hollywood comedy “The Interview” into North Korea if Pyongyang rejects Seoul’s offer of dialogue.

The North has already warned one activist, Park Sang Hak, that he would “pay for his crimes in blood” if copies of the movie about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made it across the border.

But Park said his group, Fighters for a Free North Korea (FFNK), which balloon-launched 100,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border Monday night, was prepared to face down the threats.

“If the North fails to respond sincerely to Seoul’s offer for talks… we will send copies of ‘The Interview’ so feared by Kim Jong Un,” Park told reporters in Seoul.

In order to give time for the response, the activist said he would suspend any further balloon launches until after the Lunar New Year on February 19.

Seoul has proposed holding high-level talks with the North with a view to organising a reunion around the Lunar New Year period for families divided by the 1950-53 Korean war.

Park said copies of “The Interview” were “intentionally” excluded from the leaflet packages launched overnight Monday in an unpublicised operation near the border town of Paju.

The US based Human Rights Foundation, which supports the FFNK activities, said the group intended to put 100,000 copies of the movie into the North this year on a rolling basis.

“Some people think it’s funny. Some people think it’s not funny But almost everyone we’ve spoken to said this film in North Korea will create a lot of healthy discussion and debate among North Korean people,” Thor Halvorssen, the head of the HRF, said.

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North Korea, which refers to the activists as “human scum,” has long condemned the ballon launches and in recent months has stepped up its demands for Seoul to ban the practice entirely.

In October last year, North Korea border guards attempted to shoot down some balloons, triggering a brief exchange of heavy machine gun fire between the two sides.

South Korea insists the activists have a democratic right to send the leaflets, but has appealed for restraint to avoid overly provoking the North.

Local residents living near the launch sites have complained that the activists are putting their lives at risk by making them potential targets for North Korean retaliation.

The joint press conference by Park and Halvorssen was temporarily interrupted by a group of protestors waving banners reading: “HRF, get out of Korea” and “Park Sang Hak the leaflet merchant”.

Any effort to include “The Interview” DVDs in the regular leaflet packages would certainly trigger a furious reaction from Pyongyang, which had labelled the film “a wanton act of terror” before its release.

North Korea has denied US accusations that it was behind a devastating cyberattack on the studio behind the film, Sony Pictures.

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