These days, it seems you can make a declaration of war against a country without even knowing it. At least, that's the impression we're getting from North Korea's reaction to the news that activists are planning to balloon-drop DVDs of The Interview into the country. The country's government issued a statement on Sunday saying they would consider any balloon drop of the controversial film a declaration of war against North Korea.
According to KCNA Watch, an organization that follows North Korean news, the Korean People's Army released a statement Sunday that read:
A few days ago, a group of hooligans more dead than alive who belong to the ultra-right conservative organizations such as the "Alliance for the Movement of Free North" announced they would get balloon-borne anti-DPRK leaflets numbering 500 000 and thousands of DVDs scattered in the air above the DPRK before and after the upcoming March 26th, the 5th anniversary of the sinking of Cheonan warship even with the U.S. "Human Rights Foundation" involved.
They are mulling scattering DVDs and USBs containing "The Interview", a reactionary film that has been censured worldwide for seriously hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK. This is the gravest politically-motivated provocation against the DPRK and a de facto declaration of a war against it.
The statement goes on to say that the Army will use "all the firepower strike means" available to them to strike down the vessels carrying the DVDs, "whether balloons or drones are used for those operations and whether they are carried out openly or secretly."
Who are the people planning to airdrop the anti-government leaflets and 10,000 copies of The Interview ? Some of the activists involved are from the Human Rights Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to "protect human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies." The organization is global but based in New York.
Joining the HRF is North Korean defector Park Sang-hak, who said he will also distribute USB drives containing the movie in the airdrops, in addition to DVDs. Park said of the mission:
North Korea's absolute leadership will crumble if the idolization of leader Kim breaks down.
Why drop the DVDs and USBs now? Though activists are keeping quiet about the exact time and date of the planned airdrops, the launch is based on commemorating the five-year anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean warship. On March 26, 2010, a South Korean warship sank, killing 46 sailors. The South Korean government blamed their Northern counterparts for the loss, which occurred in a heavily disputed border area. North Korea has never admitted to any involvement or apologized. Of course, this is the same border area where the activists plan to drop their DVDs, and it's also the site of previous airdrop trouble.
In October 2014, North Korean forces attempted to shoot down balloons being released across the border, prompting some cross-border gunfire. The Army warned in their statement that residents who live near the border should consider evacuating, in case heavy gunfire or explosives are exchanged if and when the balloons are launched.
While the launch was apparently originally planned for Thursday, activists have postponed the drops, hoping the North Korean government will apologize for the 2010 sunken ship. Park says the activists only "mean to send a peaceful message."