June 10 (UPI) -- The South Korean government says it is charging two North Korean defector organizations with violation of an inter-Korea cooperation law.
Seoul's unification ministry said it will also take steps toward revoking the licenses of the organizations, Kuen Saem Education Center and Fighters for a Free North Korea, South Korean news service Financial News reported Wednesday.
The unprecedented measures against the groups that have previously delivered plastic bottles loaded with rice come after senior North Korean official Kim Yo Jong made threats against defectors in the South.
Kim, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had described North Korean refugees as "garbage," and "traitors." Pyongyang also accused Seoul of not doing enough to curb activism.
The Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act began to be enforced after the Cold War, but it has not been invoked against defector activism, which has taken place at the border for years.
South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Yoh Sang-key said Wednesday at a briefing the distribution of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by helium balloon, and other activities, "violate the agreement between the two Koreas, creating tensions and give rise to dangers that threaten the safety and livelihoods of [South Korean] residents."
Defector Park Jung-oh, head of Kuen Saem, recently attempted to deliver rice this week, but was met with opposition from residents in South Korea's Ganghwa county.
Park's brother, Park Sang-hak, who heads Fighters for a Free North Korea, is speaking out against South Korea's government after Seoul warned against leaflet distribution. He also said he plans to launch helium balloons on June 25, on the 70th anniversary of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to Financial News.
Yonhap reported Wednesday the unification ministry plans to apply Article 13 of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act to the case. The law requires any "exports of goods to North Korea" to receive prior approval from the unification ministry.