N.Korea defectors suspend border propaganda launches

North Korean defectors said on Thursday they had agreed to suspend public launches of anti-Pyongyang propaganda over the border until after the South's presidential election on December 19.

Park Sang-Hak of the Fighters for Free North Korea said officials from South Korea's ruling New Frontier Party had asked the group to halt its activities in the run up to the poll, for fear of provoking Pyongyang.

"We won't do it publicly in the lead up to election day," Park told AFP, while not ruling out unannounced launches away from the glare off the media.

Park's group had been prevented from launching balloons carrying anti-North leaflets last month, after the North Korean military promised to respond with a "merciless" artillery barrage.

South Korean police had blocked all access to the proposed launch site near the border, citing national security concerns.

Park said his group's next public leafleting exercise would be carried out on February 16, the birthday of North Korea's late leader, Kim Jong-Il.

Tensions have been running high on the Korean peninsula ahead of the presidential election, with widespread concerns in the South that the North may seek to provoke a clash ahead of the ballot.

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