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Defector group says COVID-19 pain relievers, masks sent to N. Korea

These photos provided by Fighters for a Free North Korea show balloons that the group said it sent to North Korea on Sunday, from Incheon's Ganghwa Island. (Fighters for a Free North Korea)
These photos provided by Fighters for a Free North Korea show balloons that the group said it sent to North Korea on Sunday, from Incheon's Ganghwa Island. (Fighters for a Free North Korea)

INCHEON -- A North Korean defectors' group said Monday it has sent big balloons carrying COVID-19 pain relievers and face masks to North Korea.

Fighters for a Free North Korea said 20 plastic balloons were released from Ganghwa Island in Incheon, around 30 kilometers west of Seoul, to North Korea on Sunday, with 50,000 painkiller pills, 30,000 vitamin C tablets and 20,000 masks in them.

In photos released by the civic group, the balloons were also carrying banners showing the images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his younger sister Kim Yo-jong, along with messages denouncing the regime's claim that the group's leaflets were responsible for the COVID-19 outbreaks in North Korea.

The defectors' group has sent balloons carrying anti-North Korea leaflets and face masks to North Korea on several occasions this year while the North claimed that "alien" things found in a border area were responsible for the country's first COVID-19 outbreak, apparently referring to the balloons.

"North Korea publicizes that it has overcome COVID-19, but it's not true and the country still suffers from a shortage of medicine," the group's head Park Sang-hak said, accusing the Kims of overlooking the pandemic in the country.

Other civic groups and residents of border areas in South Korea, meanwhile, filed a complaint against the defectors' group with the police last month on charges of violating the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act that prohibits the sending of leaflets to North Korea. (Yonhap)

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