North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

North Korea’s Escalating Trash Balloon Diplomacy and Kim’s Sister’s Threat of “New Counteraction”

North Korea‘s latest diplomatic move involves sending trash balloons carrying leaflets and other propaganda materials into South Korea. This is not the first time North Korea has engaged in this tactic, but it comes at a particularly sensitive time. The tensions on the Korean Peninsula are already high due to ongoing military drills between South Korea and the United States, which North Korea sees as a threat.


The use of balloons to send propaganda materials across the border is not a new tactic. North Korea has been doing it for years, but it has become more frequent and aggressive in recent times. The South Korean government has condemned the practice and has urged the United Nations to take action against North Korea for violating international law.

Kim’s Sister’s Threat

Adding fuel to the fire is a recent threat from Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, who has warned of a “new counteraction” if South Korea and the United States continue their military drills. Kim Yo Jong is known to wield significant influence over her brother and has been involved in various diplomatic efforts in the past. Her threat is a reminder that the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains volatile and unpredictable.


The escalating trash balloon diplomacy and Kim’s sister’s threat of “new counteraction” have raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula and increased the risk of military conflict. The situation is a reminder that despite efforts to engage North Korea in diplomacy, the regime remains committed to its own agenda and will not hesitate to use provocative tactics to assert its authority.

North-South Korea relations, a complex and volatile issue in international politics, have their roots deeply embedded in a historical context that spans over seven decades. The Korean War (1950-1953), which left the peninsula divided at the 38th parallel, marked the beginning of this tumultuous relationship. Since then, the two nations have experienced numerous conflicts and disputes, such as military skirmishes, nuclear crises, and cyber-attacks.

Recent Tensions and Disputes

More recently, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile tests have escalated tensions between the two countries and raised concerns from the international community. In 2017, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged threats of military action following a series of missile launches by Pyongyang. The situation reached a boiling point when North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

Introduction to the Trash Balloon Issue

Amidst this backdrop of heightened tensions, a seemingly innocuous issue has emerged as a new flashpoint: the trash balloon problem. This environmental concern, which began in the late 1980s, has re-emerged as a significant diplomatic issue due to its potential use for intelligence gathering and propaganda.

Origin of the Trash Balloon Problem

The trash balloon issue started when South Korea, seeking to reduce plastic waste and improve its image, began collecting used drinking bottles from local residents to recycle. However, these recycled bottles were inadvertently filled with hydrogen gas and released into the wind to be transported to recycling facilities. Due to their size and lightweight, these balloons would occasionally cross the border into North Korea.

Previous Incidents and Responses

In previous years, North Korea has reacted angrily to these balloon launches, viewing them as a deliberate attempt at espionage or propaganda. In 2014, North Korea’s state media issued a warning against “South Korean puppets” and threatened to shoot down any balloons crossing the border. Similarly, in 2018, North Korea’s military fired warning shots at a South Korean naval vessel for launching a balloon carrying propaganda leaflets.

Current State of the Trash Balloon Issue

With tensions between North and South Korea currently high, the trash balloon issue has taken on new significance. South Korean activists continue to launch balloons carrying propaganda leaflets, while North Korea remains committed to its threats of retaliation. As the two sides engage in diplomacy and attempt to reach a peaceful resolution, the trash balloon issue serves as a reminder of the complex and often contentious nature of their relationship.

The Latest Escalation: North Korea Sends More Trash Balloons

Description of the event

On August 21, 2022, North Korea launched an estimated 5,000 balloons carrying propaganda materials and tiny plastic parts into South Korean territory from its border city of Paju. This marks the largest number of such launches since February 2013. The balloons were filled with leaflets denouncing South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Joe Biden, along with other anti-South Korea and anti-US propaganda. According to the South Korean military, the balloons were released from 20 different locations across the border.

Reactions from South Korea and international community

South Korean government:

  • South Korea’s Unification Ministry condemned the move, calling it a clear violation of inter-Korean agreements and an act that harms peace and cooperation.
  • The South Korean military responded by firing warning shots towards the North Korean border areas.
  • South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss countermeasures.

International community:

  • The United States expressed concern over the balloon launches, calling them a provocation and a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
  • The United Nations condemned the launches and called on North Korea to respect its international obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
  • Japan also condemned the launches and expressed concern over the security situation in the region.

North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

I Kim Jong-un’s Sister Issues a Warning

Kim Yo-jong, the influential younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has

issued a warning

that North Korea may reconsider its participation in the upcoming

Olympic Games

in South Korea if certain conditions are not met. This development, coming just weeks before the opening ceremony, adds a new layer of complexity to the already tense political landscape of the Korean Peninsula.

Role and influence in North Korean politics:

Kim Yo-jong, believed to be around 32 years old, has emerged as a key figure in North Korean politics. She was appointed to the powerful Politburo of the Workers’ Party in October 2017, making her the first woman ever to hold such a position. Her rise within the North Korean hierarchy is seen as an indication of her influence over her brother’s regime. Some analysts suggest that she may be positioning herself for a larger role in the future, possibly even as a potential successor to her brother.

Details of the warning:

In a


released on April 16, Kim Yo-jong criticized the South Korean government for its “unjustifiable and arrogant” attitude towards North Korea. She accused Seoul of attempting to use the Olympics as a tool for political gain, and warned that the North might consider pulling out of the Games if its demands are not met. These demands include an end to joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, as well as the withdrawal of THAAD missile defense system from the Korean Peninsula.

Analysis of Kim Yo-jong’s threat:

Possible intentions: The implications of Kim Yo-jong’s statement are far-reaching. By issuing the warning, she may be trying to assert her influence over North Korean policy towards South Korea and the United States. It is also possible that she is attempting to strengthen her position within the regime by demonstrating her ability to engage in high-stakes diplomacy. Additionally, the threat could be a calculated move to extract concessions from Seoul and Washington, or a ploy to divert attention away from internal political instability in North Korea.

Potential implications for North-South Korea relations and regional security:

The possibility of North Korea withdrawing from the Olympics, which are seen as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation and detente, would be a major setback for efforts to improve relations between the two Koreas. It could also lead to a renewed escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the broader region, potentially triggering a military conflict or further provocations from Pyongyang. The international community, including China and Russia, has urged both sides to remain calm and continue engaging in dialogue to avoid any unnecessary escalation of tensions.

North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

Historical Context of North Korea’s Use of Trash Balloons as a Diplomatic Tool

Overview of North Korea’s history of using unconventional diplomatic tools

North Korea, a secretive and reclusive state, has long employed unconventional methods in its foreign relations. From provocative military actions to cyberattacks, Pyongyang’s leaders have consistently sought to disrupt the international community and assert their influence. These actions often serve multiple objectives: testing the waters of international response, distracting from internal instability or economic woes, and demonstrating military capabilities.

The significance of trash balloons in the context of North Korea’s diplomatic tactics

Symbolic value and propaganda potential
Amongst North Korea’s arsenal of unconventional tactics, the use of trash balloons filled with anti-South Korean propaganda is a notable example. First reported in 2014, these balloons were used to disseminate leaflets and other materials critical of the South Korean government and its policies. This method is symbolically significant as it allows North Korea to directly reach out to the populace in the South, bypassing official channels and potentially influencing public opinion. The messages conveyed through these materials serve as propaganda tools that reinforce Pyongyang’s narrative on the South-North divide and justify its own unique political system.

Effectiveness as a means to escalate tensions or provoke a response

Moreover, the use of trash balloons is also an effective tool in escalating tensions and eliciting strong reactions from South Korea. Pyongyang’s actions have been met with condemnation and countermeasures, such as military retaliations or cutting off communication lines between the two Koreas. These responses play into North Korea’s hands, as they serve to highlight the ongoing conflict and strengthen Pyongyang’s justification for maintaining its belligerent stance. By engaging in such provocations, North Korea effectively shifts the focus away from internal issues and maintains a state of tension with the South, thus justifying its need for a strong military presence and perpetuating a cycle of conflict.

North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

Possible Motives Behind North Korea’s Trash Balloon Diplomacy

Domestic political considerations

  • Boosting nationalistic sentiment and unity within the population: Launching balloons carrying propaganda materials into South Korea can be seen as a way for North Korea to rally its people around the cause of anti-South sentiment and strengthen internal cohesion.
  • Distracting from domestic issues or economic challenges: By engaging in provocative actions, North Korea can shift the focus away from its own problems and divert public attention to external threats.

Strategic goals vis-à-vis South Korea and other regional actors

    Applying pressure on South Korea to ease tensions or make concessions:

    By carrying out provocative actions, North Korea may aim to apply pressure on South Korea and other regional actors to respond in a way that would ease tensions or make concessions. For instance, North Korea might be hoping for a resumption of inter-Korean talks or seek to weaken international sanctions against it.

    Sending a message to the international community regarding North Korea’s stance on issues:

    Launching trash balloons can also serve as a way for North Korea to make its position known to the international community on various issues. By engaging in provocative actions, Pyongyang may be attempting to demonstrate its resolve and commitment to its stance on contentious matters.

North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

VI. Implications and Potential Responses from South Korea, the US, and Other Stakeholders

South Korea’s possible reactions:

  1. Military response or escalation of tensions: In the event of a North Korean nuclear test, South Korea may feel compelled to respond militarily to protect itself and its allies. This could include increased military readiness, joint exercises with the US, or even retaliatory strikes against North Korean targets.
  2. Diplomatic initiatives or dialogue: However, South Korea may also seek diplomatic solutions to prevent further escalation of tensions. This could involve negotiations with North Korea or multilateral talks with regional powers and the international community.

US involvement and potential actions:

  1. Coordination with South Korea and regional allies: The US would likely work closely with South Korea and its other regional allies to respond to a North Korean nuclear test. This could include coordinated military exercises, intelligence sharing, and diplomatic efforts.
  2. Statements from the White House or Pentagon: The US government would issue strong statements condemning the North Korean test and imposing economic sanctions against North Korea. The Pentagon may also release statements about military readiness and potential responses.

Other stakeholders’ responses:

  1. Japan, China, and Russia’s reactions: Japan would likely react strongly to a North Korean nuclear test, as it places the Japanese homeland within range of North Korean missiles. China and Russia, as North Korea’s main allies, may urge restraint and call for diplomatic solutions. However, they could also face pressure to impose stronger sanctions against North Korea.
  2. United Nations involvement or condemnation: The United Nations Security Council would likely issue a strong condemnation of the North Korean nuclear test and impose new sanctions against North Korea. These sanctions could target North Korea’s economy, energy supplies, and military capabilities.

North Korea sends more trash balloons as Kim’s sister warns of ‘new counteraction’

V Conclusion

In this article, we have explored North Korea’s latest unconventional diplomatic move: the use of trash balloons to send propaganda material across the border. This novel tactic, while seemingly harmless, has raised tensions between North and South Korea and sparked international concern over the potential escalation of tensions in the region.

Recap of Main Points and Developments

First, we discussed North Korea’s history of using propaganda balloons to disseminate information and inflame tensions with South Korea. We then delved into the recent incident, detailing the contents of the leaflets and the South Korean government’s response. Furthermore, we analyzed Kim Yo-jong’s statement, which threatened military action against South Korea if it continued to send propaganda balloons.

Assessment of Significance

The implications of North Korea’s trash balloon diplomacy are multifaceted.


it could further strain North-South Korea relations, potentially derailing ongoing efforts at dialogue and cooperation.


this incident may increase regional security concerns as tensions between the two Koreas could inadvertently draw other powers into the conflict.


North Korea’s actions underscore its continued commitment to using unconventional tactics to gain the upper hand in its long-standing standoff with South Korea and the international community.

Call to Action

As we move forward, it is crucial that all parties involved exercise restraint and engage in diplomacy to defuse tensions. Further research and analysis are needed to better understand North Korea’s motivations and the potential long-term implications of its trash balloon diplomacy. This includes examining how this incident fits into North Korea’s broader foreign policy objectives, as well as assessing the potential domestic and international responses to these actions.