North Korea Sends Poop-Filled Balloons Into South Korea As Tensions Escalate

North Korea floated approximately 260 balloons containing animal waste, garbage and other unspecified “filth” into South Korea on Wednesday, according to Seoul’s military. The balloons, which landed as far south as Jeolla Province, were sent in retaliation to anti-Pyongyang leaflets launched by South Korean activists.

South Korean authorities warned residents not to touch the balloons and to report them to the police or military immediately. Pictures released by the military showed various items, including what appeared to be feces, scattered across streets and front porch areas in several locations, including the capital, Seoul.

In a statement, South Korea’s military condemned the actions as “inhumane and low-level,” stating that they violate international law and pose a serious threat to public safety. North Korea had previously vowed to take “tit-for-tat action” after a prominent human rights activist launched balloons carrying anti-North Korea pamphlets and USB flash drives filled with South Korean pop culture content into the North.

Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sarcastically described the waste-filled balloons as a “genuine ‘gift of sincerity'” and an act of “freedom of expression” by the North Korean people. She warned that in the future, North Korea would respond to such leaflet launches by sending “dozens of times” more balloons into the South.

Analysts believe the latest provocation reflects North Korea’s increasingly hostile rhetoric against the South and may be part of a broader strategy to escalate tensions ahead of the U.S. election in November.