Seoul Hits Back at Direct Criticism of Park

The South Korean government has responded strongly to blunt
North Korean criticism of President Park Geun Hye. In a statement put out by
the Ministry of Unification today, Seoul declared, “As an act that failed to
show the bare minimum respect for the counterpart, we find this deeply
regrettable. We strongly urge that such disrespectful violations do not occur

“Using unrepeatable words to criticize our head of state’s
normal diplomatic activities is a gross violation of the agreement between the
two Koreas,” it went on. “North Korea insists that it is in fact our government
that is slandering them; however, we would like to emphasize once more that
this is not the case.

“As we made clear not only at the time of high-level talks
between North and South but also afterward on a number of occasions, our
government has not slandered the North at any point. We cannot limit the
constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech of our private organizations and
media without any legal evidence [of wrongdoing].”

In addition, the statement asserted that South Korean
civilian and government concern at recent North Korean missile launches was
perfectly reasonable. “North Korea must be aware of the reason for the international
community’s decision to express serious, unanimous concern at their launching of
a ballistic missile and the development of nuclear weapons,” it stated. “They
must cease immediately their provocative acts, which pour cold water on our and
the international community’s efforts to see peace not only on the peninsula but
also in the region as a whole.”

Earlier, North Korea released a statement in the name of the
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland stating that
President Park’s recent words and deeds imply that she does not have any
interest in improving inter-Korean relations.

This is the first time President Park has been criticized by
name since an agreement was reached on February 14th in which the
two Koreas agreed not to employ mutual slander in their interactions.