Lee tells North: ‘Sober up’

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Lee tells North: ‘Sober up’

President Lee Myung-bak gave a sharp slap to North Korea in an unusually candid remark yesterday, urging the reclusive communist country to “sober up.”

In his meeting with National Unification Advisory Council members at the Blue House, President Lee spoke about his view on North Korea.

“I believe North Korea should sober up,” Lee said. “The North Korean people are suffering hardships, but the authorities spent 6 billion won for fireworks to celebrate the birthday [of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung]. Think about how much corn the country could buy with that money.”

Lee also criticized the North Korean leadership for “importing luxurious vehicles and providing them as gifts to [senior leaders].”

The president said he has no intention to unite the two Koreas with force or economic power. “What’s more urgent than unification is making North Korea become economically independent,” he said. “It’s more important that the two Koreas maintain peace. Then [unification] will come.”

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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