from Vantage Point August, 2011 News Focus
N. Korea Continues Hostile Rhetoric against S. Korea
The cases of North Korea's slander on South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has jumped to 166 in June from 64 in May.
North Korea’s hostile rhetoric against South Korea over controversial issues
between the two sides has been growing harsher in an apparent bid to create
conflicts in the South and to change its “confrontational policy” toward the North.
Pyongyang has been pouring out a barrage of rhetoric against Seoul on such
issues as the repatriation of North Korean defectors and the South’s move to legislate
a North Korean human rights bill. The North has been frequently releasing
warnings of “merciless retaliation” against any South Korean move to destroy its
Claiming that South Korea is aiming to slander the North’s “great socialist system,”
the North has incessantly described South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
as a “puppet traitor” and “the worst man in history,” likening him to an animal.
On June 16, North Korea’s Red Cross asked for the immediate repatriation of
nine North Koreans who defected by sea on June 11, warning that the South’s failing
to return them would worsen inter-Korean relations.
The South’s local media reported earlier that three men, two women and four
children crossed the tense western sea border on two engineless boats to seek
refuge in South Korea. The South’s Unification Ministry, which takes charge of
inter-Korean matters, officially confirmed their defection on June 16.
The North’s message was delivered through a Red Cross communication channel
at the truce village of Panmunjom, according to the ministry.
“If (the South) does not immediately repatriate them, referring to their wishes for
defection,” the message warned, “it could further damage inter-Korean relations.”
The message also demanded that the boats be returned.
The North Koreans are being questioned by South Korean officials about their
motives and their defection route, an official said, noting the government will handle
the matter based on their interview results and wishes for defection.
Their defection came four months after a group of 31 North Korean fishermen
drifted aboard a troubled wooden vessel across the Yellow Sea in February.
Seoul has since repatriated 27 of the fishermen to the North while allowing the
other four to remain in the South in accordance with their wishes.
However, Pyongyang claimed that South Korea kidnapped the 31 North Koreans
and accused the South of forcing the four who wished to stay into defection, a
charge that Seoul denies.
Two days ago, North Korea threatened to cut off all relations between the two
Koreas if South Korea passes a bill designed to help improve North Korea’s dismal
human rights conditions.
“From the moment (South Korea) manipulates the ‘North Korea human rights bill’
despite our strong warnings, all relations between North and South Korea will be
completely severed,” the Rodong Sinmun, the North’s main newspaper, said in a
commentary carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The commentary said that it is not a simple threat and that no contact whatsoever
will happen if the South passes the bill. “If the foul law does pass the parliament,
it would be an official declaration that (South Korea) does not legally
acknowledge our dignity, autonomy and socialist system.”
On June 20, North Korea also vowed to retaliate “mercilessly” and “sternly” if
South Korea passes the bill.
“If the puppet group enacts the criminal act, the army and the people of the
DPRK (North Korea) will make a merciless and stern response, considering it as an
official declaration of war against them and the second ‘target case,’” the North’s
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, a semi-official body overseeing
inter-Korean relations, said in a report.
“Target case” refers to the South Korean military’s use of head-shot photos of the
North’s top leaders, Kim Jong-il and his son and successor-designate Kim Jong-un,
as targets for shooting practice, which angered Pyongyang.
“The act is an anti-reunification and confrontation law aimed at sinister political
purposes to slander and defile the socialist system of the DPRK and the dignity of
its leadership and undermine it from within,” said the report carried by the KCNA.
On June 21, the KCNA claimed that the “South Korean puppet group is driven to
a tight corner of serious ruling crisis due to total failure of home and external policies,
misrule and stalled inter-Korean relations.”
Then it said the “puppet group should stop its fascist suppression and violation
of rights of South Koreans and immediately roll back the policy of confrontation
with the DPRK.”
Meanwhile, Uriminzokkiri, the North’s Internet media, carried on June 21 a poem
defaming President Lee, even calling him a mad dog. North Korea has so far described
Lee as a traitor, but had refrained from using such extreme words as mad dog.
According to Seoul’s Unification Ministry on June 23, North Korea has drastically
stepped up its smear campaign against South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in
an apparent sign of growing frustration over the inter-Korean impasse. (Yonhap