A U.S.-based group says a launch it is sponsoring of balloons carrying copies of the Sony Pictures movie “The Interview” into North Korea will go ahead, despite threats against it by the North Korean government.
The Human Rights Foundation said on Monday that the launch, performed by the group Fighters for Free North Korea (FFNK), would take place sometime this week. Park Sang Hak, who heads the FFNK, had earlier told local media that he was considering halting the launch after threats against him.
“Despite these and previous threats, HRF will proceed with launching balloons carrying leaflets, transistor radios, media and cultural artifacts into North Korea this week, as part of a broader effort to help defector groups break the Kim regime’s monopoly on information,” The Human Rights Foundation said in a statement.
The exact timing of the launch would not be revealed in advance “because of the increased security risks for the launches and the threats we’ve received from the North Korea regime,” said Jamie Hancock, a spokesman for HRF.
Such launches have been occurring for years and while each one serves to annoy the North Korean government, the level of protest from Pyongyang usually depends on internal conditions in the country.
“The Interview” depicts a plot to kill leader Kim Jong Un, an incredibly sensitive subject for the government.
After North Korea was blamed for the November 2014 hack on Sony Pictures, HRF launches a “Hack Them Back” fundraising campaign that succeeded in raising over $50,000 to fund sponsorship of future balloon launches.
The large helium-filled balloons that are launched from the border region typically carry several large plastic bags filled with thousands of leaflets that condemn the ruling regime in addition to other cargo like radios capable of receiving overseas broadcasts, U.S. dollar bills, and TV shows and movies on DVD and USB memory stick. A year ago, HRF sponsored the launch of balloons carrying the Korean version of Wikipedia on USB sticks.
The bags are fitted with timers that release them after a certain time in the air, in the hope that the contents flutter down over the North Korean countryside and into cities.