North Korea issued a scathing personal attack yesterday on South Korean President Park Geun-hye, accusing her of breaking a moratorium on cross-border insults and behaving like a “blabbering” peasant woman.
The attack referenced a speech Park made on Monday at a nuclear summit in The Hague in which she voiced concern that Pyongyang’s nuclear material could end up in terrorist hands, and warned of a possible Chernobyl-style disaster at the North’s main Yongbyong atomic complex.
A spokesman for the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said Park’s remarks “violently trampled” on an agreement reached at rare, high-level talks last month for the two Koreas to stop “slandering” one another.
If Park genuinely wants to see improvements in inter-Korean relations, “she first has to stop rambling recklessly and learn how to speak with discretion,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency.
“Even if someone else wrote the dumb speech for her to read from, she should at least know what and what not to say... in order not to embarrass herself,” the spokesman said. “She should realize she is no longer a peasant woman blabbering to herself in the corner of her room, but the occupant of the [presidential] Blue House.”
North Korea has made similarly vitriolic attacks on Park in the past, but this was the first since last month’s agreement.
North Korea had pushed hard for the “no slander” clause, which observers said was always going to prove problematic.
North Korea insists it should extend to the media, private groups and individuals, while South Korea argues that it cannot restrict freedom of speech.
Seoul denounced the CPRK statement as “rude” and unhelpful.
“We find the comments that can’t even be repeated ... deeply regrettable and lacking the most basic etiquette,” a government statement said.
Meanwhile, nearly 15,000 South Korean and US troops began a 12-day amphibious landing drill yesterday, the largest for two decades.
Codenamed Ssang Yong (“Twin Dragons”), the exercise on the South’s southeastern coast is to last until April 7 and involve around 10,000 US troops.
The US forces are to include 7,500 marines belonging to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based in Okinawa, Japan.
Yonhap news agency said 3,500 marines and 1,000 navy sailors would take part from South Korea.
In other developments, the UN Security Council was to hold closed-door consultations yesterday to discuss a possible condemnation of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches on Wednesday, UN diplomats said.
The request for a special session on North Korea came from the US, council diplomats said on condition of anonymity on Wednesday. The meeting was scheduled for 8:30pm GMT yesterday.
In Seoul, South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesman Kim Min-seok called the launches of two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea “a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and a grave provocation.”
Council diplomats said Washington was expected to propose a Security Council statement that would condemn the missile firings.
Additional reporting by Reuters