In a commentary this month, KCNA described leaflet-scattering as “undisguised psychological warfare” and “an act of a preemptive attack that precedes a war”.
At times it leaflet dispatches have led to escalation — in October 2014 the North opened fire on an air balloon carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets, triggering an exchange of shots at the border.
But most South Koreans largely ignore leaflets they find sent by the North.
The flyers often boast of its military prowess or criticize the US and Southern presidents, accompanied by offensive images and language. A 2016 flyer showed then South Korean president Park Geun-hye, with one eye photoshopped to look bruised and her hair messed up, with the message: “Idiot president and devil.”
The North’s declarations on Monday came after Kim Yeon-chul, South Korea’s point man for relations with Pyongyang, resigned as unification minister over the heightened tensions, expressing hope that his departure “will be a chance to pause for a bit”.
South Korea has also announced it will ban sending leaflets north — raising concerns over freedom of speech in the democratic country — and has filed a police complaint against two defector groups over the campaigns that have offended Pyongyang.
The two Koreas remain technically at war after Korean War hostilities ended with an armistice in 1953 that was never replaced by a peace treaty.