Tags: North Korea | interview | sony | defector | balloons | Lee Min-bok

Defector, Using Balloons, Inundates N Korea With 'Interview' DVDs

By    |   Tuesday, 07 April 2015 08:56 AM

On a propaganda mission to enlighten North Koreans about their dictatorial government, North Korean defector and Christian missionary Lee Min-bok uses helium-filled balloons to deliver thousands of copies of the comedy "The Interview" to his native country.

The comedy — during which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is assassinated — sparked worldwide controversy and a cyberattack on movie company Sony by Pyongyang.

"The regime hates this film because it shows Kim Jong Un as a man, not a God," Min-bok told CNN. "He cries and is afraid like us and then he's assassinated."

The movie depicts Kim as "a Katy Perry-loving, sensitive soul with daddy issues, clashing with the all-powerful image beamed out by Pyongyang's tightly controlled state media and propaganda machine."

Min-bok, who for a decade has used balloons to launch leaflets across the border, now includes DVDs of "The Interview" in his deliveries. CNN reports that Min-bok fills the balloons with helium and ties bundles of DVDs, dollar bills and political leaflets to the bottom. He attaches a timer that releases the bundle once it arrives over the border.

Min-bok's fourth — and most recent — shipment included more than 80,000 copies of the movie, according to CNN.

North Korea opened fire on similar propaganda balloons recently, the network reports, but the violent reaction has not dissuaded Min-bok from continuing with his mission to inform the people of North Korea.

"If you tell the truth in North Korea, you die. But by using these balloons from here, I can tell the truth in safety," he said.

The mission is paid for by sponsorships from individuals and churches, according to Min-bok, who told Reuters last year he has received up to $188,146 a year to fund the cause.

Min-bok worked as an agricultural scientist in North Korea before defecting to South Korea via China and Russia in 1995, according to Reuters, which reports that he became disillusioned with the North Korean government in the 1990s during a famine that is believed to have killed as many as a million North Koreans.

His eyes were opened, according to Reuters, when he saw a leaflet apparently flown from the South, saying the Korean War started with a North Korean invasion. North Korea maintains that the U.S.-backed South Korea started the conflict.

Min-bok lives in a "ramshackle container-box home near the world's most heavily militarized border," Reuters reports.

He has launched some 50 million leaflets across the border over a decade, something he does after researching weather photos on his laptop for the optimal time and location to send the balloons into the sky, according to Reuters.

The balloons float up to 10,000 feet and can weigh up to about 18 pounds each. They can carry 100,000 fliers and, if all goes according to plan, a timer drops the bundle once it crosses the border into the North, "preferably on farms where students and soldiers are helping to bring in the harvest," according to Reuters.

"My balloons are the way to achieve peace and unification and tell North Koreans the truth — not to hate the United States and South Korea," he said.

He knows he is on a North Korean hit-list, though he doesn't much care.

"North Korean threats are empty," he said. "They don't know where I am doing it, and balloons fly under radar."

Before the scheduled release of "The Interview" late last year, a North Korean-affiliated hacker group broke into Sony's computer system, grabbed and then released a bevy of embarrassing emails, contracts and other confidential data. The group also threatened to launch attacks on movie theaters that showed the movie, prompting Sony to cancel the debut.

Some independent theaters picked it up, and Sony reversed its course, CBS News said.

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On a mission to enlighten North Koreans about their dictatorial government, North Korean defector Lee Min-bok uses helium-filled balloons to deliver thousands of copies of the comedy "The Interview" to his native country.
interview, sony, defector, balloons, Lee Min-bok
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 08:56 AM
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