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North Korea defector loses case in South Korea court over helium fliers

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SEOUL, March 29 (UPI) — A North Korean defector lost his case in a South Korean court when a judge sided with the government’s decision to ban him from dispatching helium balloons across the border.

Lee Min-bok, who began his anti-Pyongyang activities in 2005, sent a total of 5,708 helium balloons filled with leaflets between 2009 and 2013, Yonhap reported.

Lee said he is angry about the verdict, adding there is “little probability” the fliers could land in the hands of North Korean soldiers.

“The [South Korean] court urgently needs to introduce [artificial intelligence] AlphaGo,” Lee said, because “the speed at which the case can be processed would go faster.”

AlphaGo is the Google AI that beat South Korean Go world champion Lee Se-dol.

Lee Min-bok said he defected after coming into contact with anti-Pyongyang fliers in the North, which is why he believes they are effective.

But Lee and other defectors who engage in activism don’t always have it so easy.

South Korea police is wary of activists who send material across the heavily fortified border, and South Korean residents of border villages fear retaliation from North Korean troops.

Lee’s case against the government involved an incident in June 2014, when South Korean police banned him from sending fliers. For the infringement on his freedom of expression, Lee sued the government for $43,000.

South Korea’s Uijeongbu District Court dismissed the case after a third hearing on Feb. 25.

According to the first verdict, the distribution of the fliers on principle cannot be “restrained” according to the rule of free expression, but the ban was not “excessive” since the actions could pose serious risks to the South Korean people.

North Korean defectors often risk their lives to leave their country, and Japan’s Asia Press reported North Korea is stepping up punishment of defectors’ families who are left behind.

According to Asia Press, three generations of a defector with the surname Kim were recently “exterminated, ” because of the defector’s activism in the South.


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