South Korean activist makes amateur air drop into North via helium balloons


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The Independent Online

It is a strange sort of activism – falling, as it does, like the rain from heaven. But a Southern Korean activist's balloon drop into the North last week was no less effective for that. Social groups and Christian activists buddied up to try to get some hard-to-come-by essentials over the border, and into the hermetically sealed north. The only way to do it? Attach sanitary towels, toothpaste, socks and condoms to helium balloons – and wait for a fair wind. They seem to have been fairly successful, too, and Pyongyang hasn't issued its threat of last month, after a leaflet drop, to respond "mercilessly".

Innovative, certainly, but by no means the first bit of airborne activism. In August this year, a Swedish ad agency flew two pilots above Minsk in Belarus, who dropped teddy bears attached to balloons in protest at the Lukashenko Government's imprisonment of two officials.

Back in 2005, the Plane Stupid climate change protesters disrupted the speech of a BA executive at an aviation convention by attaching six 130-decibel alarms to a helium balloon and letting it float up to the rafters. Will this, then, turn out to be the method of protest in the decade after the Noughties? One can only hope so – given that it's quite difficult to whack someone over the head with a truncheon for releasing a balloon attached to a soft toy.