News / Asia

North Korea Makes First Mention of South's New President

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, March 4, 2013 file photo.
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, March 4, 2013 file photo.
North Korea has made its first reference to South Korea's new president, amid escalated tension on the peninsula. Meanwhile, South Korea says the military hotline to the North is still operational, but another communications link remains severed for a third day.

The latest combative vow of retaliation against South Korea and the United States is being attributed to North Korea's armed forces ministry.

A spokesman's statement, read by an announcer during Wednesday radio broadcasts, refers to the new administration of President Park Geun-hye in Seoul as idiots who cannot judge reality and are continuing with the same confrontational polices of her predecessor.

The announcer says "the frenzy being kicked up by the South Korean warmongers is no way irrelevant, with the venomous swish of skirt made by the owner of the presidential office."

President Park was inaugurated February 25.  In official statements and media commentary, North Korea has not mentioned her until now.

North Korea frequently vilified her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, as "the rat-like leader of a pack of traitors."

Professor Yang Moo-jin at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul says Pyongyang seems to have taken care, at this point, not to mention President Park by name.

Yang says the criticism, while elevating the threat level, is indirect to leave an opportunity for direct communication with the South.  He says, if it directly criticizes the South Korean president, any chance of improving inter-Korean relations would be difficult.

North Korea's Leader Visits Coastal Detachment

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Wolnae Islet Defence Detachment in the western sector of the front line, which is near Baengnyeong Island of South Korea, March 11, 2013. (KCNA)
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a long-range artillery sub-unit of the Korean People's Army Unit 641, March 11, 2013. (KCNA)
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holds a guitar during his visit to a military unit on the Wolnae Islet Defence Detachment in the western sector of the front line, which is near Baengnyeong Island, South Korea, March 11, 2013. (KCNA)
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves while in a boat during his visit to the Wolnae Islet Defence Detachment in the western sector of the front line, which is near Baengnyeong Island of South Korea March 11, 2013. (KCNA)


North Korea says it unilaterally abrogated the 1953 Armistice agreement, effective Monday.

South Korea's government says the military hotline between the two sides is still operational, but the Red Cross communications link across the demilitarized zone at the Panmunjom truce village has been severed since Monday.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex

Operations are also continuing normally at the only Korean joint venture: the Kaesong Industrial Complex, just north of the DMZ.

Fifty-three thousand North Korea laborers are employed there by more than 100 South Korean companies. The complex annually generates an estimated $1 billion in exports to the South from the impoverished and isolated North.

Senior economic researcher Cho Bong-hyun at the Industrial Bank of Korea says, if the 700 managers from the South who go there daily are blocked from entering, that would be an ominous signal from the North.

Cho says anxiety is high among the South Korean company owners and some of them have started to leave, while workers are worried about the complex shutting down. But, he says, all are hoping inter-Korean relations will stabilize for the proper operation of the unique venture.

South conducts military exercises

Just to the south of the DMZ, South Korean marines conducted a drill Wednesday with about 30 tanks. Officials term it a routine exercise and say it was separate from two large U.S.-South Korean joint drills underway.

Military officials in the South say the North's forces may also have commenced their own large-scale exercise, but there has been no confirmation of that.

A cease-fire has been in force on the peninsula since the 1953 truce agreement, but no peace treaty has been signed. The two Koreas have no diplomatic relations, meaning two of the world's largest armies continue to face each other with both sides claiming sovereignty of the entire peninsula.

South Korea and U.S. Hold Military Drill

  • South Korean Army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
  • South Korean Army soldiers work on their K-9 self-propelled artillery vehicles during an exercise near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
  • South Korean Army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
  • South Korean protesters shout slogans during a rally denouncing the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, March 11, 2013.
  • A South Korean college student weeps as she reads statements during a press conference denouncing the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2013.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs