North Korea sends balloons filled with rubbish and manure towards South Korea

North Korea flew hundreds of balloons filled with rubbish and manure towards South Korea in retaliation for anti-North Korea propaganda.

South Korean chemical and explosive teams were sent out to pick up the debris.

North Korea has been flying large numbers of trash-carrying balloons toward the south since Tuesday night, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

They claim the campaign is in retaliation for South Korean activists flying anti-North Korean propaganda leaflets across the border.

Around 260 manure and rubbish-filled balloons were found around the country, according to the military.

They advised civilians not to touch the objects from North Korea and to report any sightings of grounded objects to the military or to the police.

Kim Jong Un's government was planning to scatter "mounds of wastepaper and filth" over border areas and other parts of South Korea, according to North Korean Vice Defense Minister Kim Kang Il. He described it as a "tit-for-tat" response to the leafletting by South Korean activists.

Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's powerful sister, also took to state media on Wednesday to ridicule a South Korean military statement demanding that the North stop its "inhumane and vulgar activity".

'Freedom of expression'

She said the North was merely exercising its freedom of expression. That appeared to be a reference to the Seoul government saying it couldn't stop anti-North Korean activists from flying leaflets across the border as it would restrict their freedom of expression.

"Once you experience how nasty and exhausting it feels to go around picking up dirty filth, you will realise that you shouldn't talk about freedom of expression so easily when it comes to [leafletting] in border areas," she said.

"We will make it clear that we will respond with ten more times the amount of filth to what the [South Koreans] spray to us in the future."

Photos released by the South Korean military showed trash scattered across highways and roads in different parts of the country.

In the capital Seoul, military officials found what appeared to be a timer that was likely designed to pop the bags of trash in mid-air.

Two huge balloons

In the central South Chungcheong province, two huge balloons carrying an unpopped plastic bag filled with dirt-like substances were seen at a road.

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There were no immediate reports of damage caused by the balloons. Similar North Korean balloon activities damaged cars and other property in 2016.

The balloon campaign came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged his military scientists to overcome a failed satellite launch and continue developing space-based reconnaissance capabilities, which he described as crucial for countering US and South Korean military activities, state media said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a rocket carrying what would have been his country's second military reconnaissance satellite exploded shortly after lift-off.

North Korea's aerospace technology administration said the explosion was possibly related to the reliability of a newly developed rocket engine that is fuelled by petroleum and uses liquid oxygen as an oxidiser.

Relations between North and South Korea are at their worst level in years as the pace of both Kim Jong Un's weapons demonstrations and South Korea's combined military exercises with the US and Japan intensify.