July 17 (UPI) -- South Korea has canceled the operation permits of two defector groups who have been launching balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea.
Seoul's unification ministry said in a statement to reporters on Friday the groups, Fighters for a Free North Korea and Keunsaem, "seriously hindered" the government's policy of unification as well as "efforts to promote unification," News 1 and Yonhap reported.
The ministry said the organizations "violated the basis" for operations. Their campaign of sending anti-Kim leaflets were "beyond the scope" of their mission. Leafleting also pose risks to citizen safety in South Korean border villages, Seoul said.
The revocation of the permits mean the activists, Park Sang-hak and Park Jung-oh, will face greater fundraising hurdles. Their nonprofits will not enjoy various tax benefits.
Park Sang-hak was recently detained and interrogated by police after sending plastic bottles loaded with rice, flash drives and anti-Pyongyang flyers.
A unification ministry official told News 1 the groups created tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and that permits were revoked under Article 38 of South Korean civil law. The law gives authorities the power to cancel the "permission for incorporation" of an entity when operations go "outside the scope of its purpose."
South Korea moved to curb leafleting following statements from North Korean official Kim Yo Jong, who had warned in June the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong would become the site of a "tragic scene" after Pyongyang expressed anger over defectors and their activities. The North later blew up the office.
Park has been raising awareness of these developments outside South Korea.
"Our leaflets carry the truth about the Kim family: They are not gods, they are human, and they must be resisted. The truth is what the Kim dynasty is most afraid of," Park said in a Washington Post editorial this week.