Aug. 12 (UPI) -- A South Korean court has agreed to temporarily block a government order to revoke the operating license of a North Korean defector-led group, amid criticism from activists and human rights watchdogs.
Judge Lee Seong-yong of Seoul Administrative Court said Wednesday the court has accepted a request from defector group Keunsaem, headed by Park Jung-oh, the brother of activist Park Sang-hak of Fighters for a Free North Korea, Yonhap and JoongAng Ilbo reported Wednesday.
The groups are under government scrutiny for engaging in the launch of helium balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets at the border. Seoul banned the activities after North Korean official Kim Yo Jong claimed the leafleting was a violation of an inter-Korean agreement signed in 2018.
On Wednesday the South Korean court said in its opinion the government's decision to strip Keunsaem's license poses the risk of "irreparable damage" due to the nature of the order.
"It is evident there is an urgent need to prevent this from occurring," the court said.
The court also defended its ruling, effective for one month, saying the blocking of the government order would "not harm the public good" in the short term. Seoul has said the balloon launches endanger the lives of South Koreans at the border.
South Korea's unification ministry said it accepts the decision, but confirmed plans to revoke Keunsaem's license in the long term.
"During the main lawsuit, we will offer sufficient explanations as to why the revocation decision is justified," said ministry spokesman Yoh Sang-key.
Seoul has said it would inspect 25 defector-run organizations registered with the government to check for accounting irregularities.
The initial list may have been limited to mostly groups focused on raising awareness of North Korean human rights abuses. On Wednesday Seoul said the government would expand audits to include groups engaging in inter-Korea exchange.