North Korea’s Trash Balloons Contain Parasites From Human Feces: South Korea

Numerous parasites have been found after examining the balloons, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.
North Korea’s Trash Balloons Contain Parasites From Human Feces: South Korea
A balloon presumably sent by North Korea, on the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, on June 9, 2024. (South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff via AP)
Aldgra Fredly
Updated:
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Parasites believed to be from human excrement have been detected in the bags of trash carried by North Korean balloons toward South Korea in recent weeks, the South Korean government said on June 24.

More than 1,600 trash-filled balloons have been sent by North Korea toward its southern neighbor since May, and South Korean residents have been advised not to touch any objects attached to the balloons.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that it found “numerous parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, and threadworms” in the soil contained in the trash after examining 70 balloons, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

The bags of trash carried by the balloons also contained clothes donated to North Korea by a South Korean company, which appeared to have been cut into pieces, according to the ministry.

The North Korean regime has said the balloon campaign is in retaliation for the actions of South Korean citizens who had previously flown balloons carrying items into North Korea. Those items included money, food, medicine, and leaflets condemning the regime.

“It appears that North Korea damaged and sent these previously supplied items to express extreme hostility toward the leaflet campaigns and to highlight the adversarial stance against South Korea,” a ministry official told the local news agency.

North Korea’s balloon campaign prompted South Korea to resume the loudspeaker broadcasts near the border areas earlier this month, which Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, called “a prelude to a very dangerous situation.”

“I sternly warn Seoul to stop at once the dangerous act of bringing the further confrontation crisis and discipline itself,” Ms. Kim was cited as saying by North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency on June 10.

South Korea’s broadcasts include world news and information about democratic and capitalist society with a mix of popular K-pop music. The sound is believed to travel more than 12 miles into North Korea.

While South Korea stopped the broadcasts under an agreement signed by the two countries’ leaders in 2018, tensions have mounted since then as North Korea pushed ahead with nuclear weapons development.

North Korea has carried out more than 100 weapons tests in recent years, which involved various missile systems, including long-range missiles capable of striking the United States and its Asian allies.

The United States has persisted in seeking “direct talks” with North Korea without preconditions in favor of a diplomatic solution. North Korea has rebuffed these efforts.

Andrew Thornebrooke and Reuters contributed to this report.