Sat, Dec 31, 2011 - Page 1 News List

North Korea warns South, says policy change not on cards

AFP, SEOUL

North Korea warned the world yesterday to expect no policy changes under new leader Kim Jong-un, and threatened retaliation against South Korea for “rubbing salt” into the wounds of its grieving people.

The tough statement came a day after the communist nation ended 13 days of mourning for late leader Kim Jong-il and proclaimed his son, Kim Jong-un, as new supreme chief at a massive memorial ceremony.

We “solemnly declare with confidence that the south Korean puppets and foolish politicians around the world should not expect any change from the DPRK [North Korea],” said the National Defense Commission (NDC), the top decisionmaking body.

The North will never have dealings “with the [South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak group of traitors,” the NDC said, referring to the South’s conservative president in a statement carried on the official news agency and state television.

“We will surely force the group of traitors to pay for its hideous crimes committed at the time of the great national misfortune,” it said, accusing Seoul of insulting behavior during the mourning period for Kim.

A “sea of tears” shed by the North’s army and people would “turn into that of retaliatory fire to burn all the group of traitors.”

Despite the bellicose language, analysts said the North was warning the world against any interference during the transition and that the chance of any provocation was low.

However, Seoul’s response to Kim’s death was seen as conciliatory even by domestic political opponents.

It expressed sympathies to the North’s people, but not the regime, and allowed South Koreans to send pre-approved condolence messages northwards.

The North yesterday vehemently criticized a cross-border leaflet launch staged by defectors on Wednesday, the day of Kim’s funeral.

The South’s government was “hurting the grief-stricken compatriots and rubbing salt into their wounds,” it said, while expressing hope of better ties under a future government in Seoul.

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