South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed in a speech Thursday that her nation would work to pressure North Korea to “end the tyranny that has deprived North Koreans of their freedom and human rights,” the first time she has called the communist regime in Pyongyang a “tyranny.”
Park stated as her government’s goals convincing North Korea to give up its “reckless nuclear program” and “walk down the path of genuine change as soon as possible.” Speaking to a graduating class of soldiers at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters, she vowed to make her “top priority” the security of South Koreans and suggested Seoul was ready to implement even more measures to restrict the ability of the Kim Jong-un dictatorship to operate freely in the world and survive while starving its people.
“I once again strongly urge North Korea to throw away the delusion that the nuclear programs guarantee the regime safety and to walk down the path of genuine change as soon as possible,” she added. “The government will take all kinds of strong and effective measures against North Korea until it gives up the nuclear programs and become a responsible member of the international community,” Park said.
Park’s speech signals a change in rhetoric from promoting denuclearization in North Korea to calling for the end of the Kim regime in its entirety. To that end, some South Korean officials have leaked to the media that they expect their government to impose further unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, even after the United Nations Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on the North Korean government this week. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said this week that South Korea is seeking “even more painful” unilateral sanctions against the north, with South Korean newswire service Yonhap reporting that officials have stated these may involve a ban on allowing any vessel that has ever visited North Korea to dock in the south.
The UN Security Council sanctions include severe limitations on the goods North Korea may legally export to other nations, as well as inspections on any North Korean ships docking in a foreign country. They are considered among the sternest non-military actions passed in the UN’s history.
North Korea has responded to the sanctions, and South Korea’s proposed unilateral moves, with typical vitriol. In a column posted to state newspaper Rodong Sinmun’s webpage on Thursday, a writer posited that President Park was an “ugly female bat,” citing unknown North Korean “zoologists” who “confirmed” that Park “has the similar mode of existence to a bat.” The article is titled “Ugly Female Bat-Disgrace of Worst Traitor.” North Korean media has previously referred to Park as an “old cat,” a “bitch,” a “witch full of hate,” and a “pumpkin.”
In statements this week, Kim Jong-un reportedly personally threatened to hasten the “end” of Park’s tenure as president. “If Park carries out trivial military behaviour, then there won’t be any time to regret,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying, “In order to prevent future leaders from silly behaviour like Park’s, it is necessary to clearly show the end of Park.”
North Korean officials have also vowed to take action against the United Nations sanctions. “We will mobilize various means and ways to take strong and merciless actions, including physical means,” a North Korean government spokesman said this week, adding, “We sternly reject the U.N. sanctions as we view them to be the most reckless provocation.”
Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered the North Korean military to place the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal on “standby” to be deployed any moment, as well. “The only way for defending the sovereignty of our nation and its right to existence under the present extreme situation is to bolster up nuclear force both in quality and quantity,” Kim allegedly said in a statement announcing the move.