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South Korea to Suspend Military Agreement with North Korea After Balloon Campaign

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The National Security Council of South Korea announced on Monday its plan to fully suspend the 2018 military agreement with North Korea. The decision is set to be presented for approval to the cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday, marking a significant turn in the relations between the two countries. The key military agreement, which was partially frozen last year, is now facing complete suspension.

According to the council, the continued compliance with the deal would pose “considerable problems in our military’s readiness posture.” Suspending the agreement would enable South Korea to conduct training near the military border and take unspecified “immediate measures” if deemed necessary.

The 2018 military agreement, a crucial outcome of historic meetings between the two Koreas during a period of improved relations, was partially suspended by Seoul last year after North Korea launched a spy satellite into orbit. Following the South’s suspension, Pyongyang announced that it would also no longer abide by the agreement.

Tensions have escalated further as North Korea initiated a series of balloon “attacks” across the heavily fortified border. Trash and animal faeces-filled balloons, labelled as “gifts of sincerity,” were sent to South Korea, marking a provocative campaign by North Korea. Kim Yo Jong, a key spokesperson for Pyongyang and the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, derided South Korea’s complaints about the balloons, asserting that North Koreans were merely exercising their freedom of expression.

However, North Korea declared on Sunday that it would halt sending the rubbish-filled balloons, citing their effectiveness as a countermeasure against South Korean propaganda. The North justified its campaign as a response to balloons from South Korean activists containing anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets, along with occasional offerings of cash, food, or USB drives loaded with South Korean cultural content.

In response to the escalating tensions, a presidential official stated after a meeting of the National Security Council that South Korea would consider resuming previous loudspeaker propaganda campaigns along the border targeting Kim Jong Un, signalling the potential for further escalation in the standoff with North Korea.

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