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South Korean Activists Use Tech-Savvy ‘Smart Balloons’ in Cross-Border Leaflet Warfare



South Korean Activists Use Tech Savvy 'smart Balloons' In Cross Border Leaflet Warfare

In the balloon warfare between North Korea and South Korean activists, a Seoul-based group known as The Committee for Reform and Opening up of Joson has emerged with a unique approach. They have utilized tech expertise to develop ‘smart balloons’ capable of dispersing leaflets and electronic speakers hundreds of kilometers across the border.

Built using 3D printers and components sourced online, these smart balloons, costing up to $1,000 each, are equipped with GPS tracking, enabling precise targeting of their payload dissemination.

Operating under the cover of darkness, the group flies these balloons once or twice a month during favorable wind conditions from spring to autumn. Their goal is to drop cargoes deeper into North Korea, sometimes reaching as far as China and over the capital Pyongyang.

The activists have tracked some of their balloons with GPS, providing valuable data on the reach and impact of their operations.

‘Our smart balloons are expensive but we think they’re a hundred times more powerful than balloons flown by other groups,’ a member of the group shared. The term ‘Joson’ in their name refers to North Korea.

Balloon tactics have recently escalated tensions between North and South Korea, especially after North Korea began sending balloons southwards. This exchange has underscored the ongoing rivalry between the two nations.

The South Korean government has been involved in this balloon warfare in the past but abandoned the practice over a decade ago due to security concerns. However, with a recent court decision overturning a ban on such activities, private groups have ramped up their balloon flights.

The tech-savvy approach of The Committee for Reform and Opening up of Joson includes pre-programmed devices that scatter leaflets and speakers critical of North Korean leadership. The devices, equipped with altimeter-linked valves, offer more stability in flight, though still dependent on weather conditions.

North Korean officials have denounced South Korean leaflet activists, referring to them as ‘human scum,’ indicating the sensitivity and gravity of these balloon operations.

In the face of criticism and potential restrictions, the group remains committed to their cause, utilizing advanced technology to amplify their message across borders.

Rachel Adams

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