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Pyongyang takes its first angry jab at Moon

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May 20,2017
Breaking its silence on South Korea’s new liberal Moon Jae-in administration, North Korea said it was “astonishing” that Moon convened an urgent National Security Council (NSC) meeting with “remnants” of the former Park Geun-hye administration following its ballistic missile test Sunday, warning that anyone who challenges the North’s dignity won’t be afforded “any mercy.”

The comment, laid out by North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee and reported Thursday on the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), was North Korea’s first judgement of South Korea’s new president, who took office on May 10. It previously reported straight news about Moon’s election and inauguration.

It was also a quick reaction compared to the last administration, when the North waited about three months to slam the Park Blue House in what appeared to be an effort to influence her North Korea policy.

“The South Korean authorities have to draw a serious lesson from the wretched fate of traitor Park Geun-hye,” the KCNA reported in English Thursday, “who met a miserable end while vociferating about ‘nuclear threat from the North’ and going keen on hurting the fellow countrymen with the help of outsiders that only think [of] inflicting nuclear disaster on the nation.”

Those who challenge the dignity and social system of the North while faulting its “legitimate” defense measures “should not expect any mercy,” the statement continued.

In another dispatch on KCNA Friday, based on a commentary from a person only identified as Kim Myong-chol, the North said “dialogue and confrontation cannot coexist” and that “kow-towing to outside forces is anti-unification,” apparently referring to South Korea’s alliance between the U.S.

The North, a vociferous critic of former President Park, was quick to report Moon’s election victory but had refrained from making any judgement. When asked by reporters in Beijing last week about Pyongyang’s thoughts on Moon, Choe Son-hui, director general of North American affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said her country “would have to see.”

Choe was returning from Oslo with a North Korean delegation after holding talks with former U.S. officials there.

Pyongyang’s first jab at Moon came four days after its latest missile was fired Sunday at around 5:27 a.m. from the northwest city of Kusong, in North Pyongan Province, and flew between 700 to 800 kilometers (435 to 497 miles) before landing in the East Sea.

Moon convened an NSC meeting at the Blue House at 8 a.m. and called the firing a “blatant violation” of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit Pyongyang from seeking missile and nuclear technology, and a “grave threat” to the Korean Peninsula and the international society.

Moon, a strong supporter of former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun’s Sunshine Policy of engagement of the North, kept open the possibility of an inter-Korea summit but said it could only be held when Pyongyang “changes its behavior.” He added he would react “firmly” to any provocation so that the North “does not miscalculate.”

Attendees of the 90-minute meeting included National Defense Minister Han Min-koo, Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se, Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, and presidential national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin, all appointed by Park, who is jailed awaiting a corruption trial.

As long as Washington increases its “hostile policy” toward the North and threatens a nuclear war, Pyongyang said in the Thursday dispatch, its nuclear capabilities will only “increase at a higher pace” in order to defend peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Lee Eu-gene, vice spokeswoman at South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korea relations, warned North Korea on Friday in a regular briefing to cooperate with efforts by the South and the international society to denuclearize the peninsula.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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