Park talks of ‘vicious cycle’ with Pyongyang

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Park talks of ‘vicious cycle’ with Pyongyang

South Korea has to “sever” a vicious cycle of the North’s threats and provocations being met with “rewards and coddling,” said President Park Geun-hye in an interview with the BBC yesterday in the middle of a European visit, which were harsher sentiments than in an earlier interview with a French daily.

“It’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t honor their promises,” Park told the BBC ahead of a visit to the United Kingdom, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

She described Pyongyang’s actions and behavior as “very disappointing.”

This contrasts with the softer tone used in Park’s interview Friday with French daily Le Figaro, in which she said she was willing to meet with Kim Jong-un “at any time.”

To the BBC, Park warned that if that vicious cycle of provocations and rewards was not broken, “North Korea will continue to advance its nuclear capability, and we will come to a point where this situation will be even harder to crack.”

She added that any attack by the North in the future would be “met by a huge price tag.”

North Korea yesterday criticized Park’s so-called trust-building process for the Korean Peninsula, describing it as an impediment to unification.

It warned that it was not planning to change its behavior any time soon.

The North’s Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Workers’ Party, said yesterday that the trust-building process pushed by the South “is a confrontational system planned to encourage hostility among the same people.”

It said expecting North Korea to change would be futile, like waiting for the “earth to break apart.”

Park told Le Figaro in an interview published Friday that she is ready to have a summit with Kim Jong-un if the meeting is deemed necessary for peace and the development of the inter-Korean relationship but that such an inter-Korean summit must stress “sincerity” and not be held just for short-term results.

Both interviews were conducted in the Blue House last week prior to Park’s departure to Europe. Park’s softened tone in the Le Figaro interview had led to speculation of a shift in her policy on North Korea.

In an interview with The Washington Post during her U.S. summit in May, Park said she may meet with Kim Jong-un if the need arose but added, “.?.?. what use would it be at this exact moment?”

Lee Jung-hyun, Park’s senior press secretary, said that the president’s words should be taken in reference to her “principles” on the issues.

Pyongyang did respond to Park’s proposal for a summit.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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