South Korea’s leader warns of North Korea collapse
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president warned Tuesday that North Korea faces a collapse if it does not abandon its nuclear program, in unusually strong language that will likely infuriate Pyongyang.
President Park Geun-hye made the remarks during a speech at parliament while defending her decision to shut down a jointly run factory park in North Korea amid a heightened standoff over North Korea’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch.
Park said South Korea needs to take unspecified “stronger and more effective” measures to make North Korea realize its nuclear ambitions will only result in speeding up of its “regime collapse.”
It is unusual for a top South Korean official to touch upon such a government collapse in North Korea because of worries about worsening ties between the rivals.
Park’s comments are certain to anger North Korea as they were made as the country marks the birthday of late dictator Kim Jong Il, the father of current leader Kim Jong Un.
Park repeated her government’s argument that much of the money South Korea paid to North Korean workers at Kaesong had been flowed to the ruling Workers’ Party leadership in charge of weapons programs.
Seoul officials said North Korea was able to divert the money because the workers in Kaesong were not paid directly. Instead, US dollars were paid to the North Korean government, which siphoned off most of the money and paid only what it wanted to the employees in North Korean currency and store vouchers, according to a statement from Seoul’s’ Unification Ministry on Sunday.
The ministry did not detail how it arrived at that conclusion. North Korea has previously dismissed such views.
Earlier this month, North Korea ignored repeated international warnings and launched what it said was an Earth observation satellite aboard a rocket. Washington, Seoul and others view the launch as a prohibited test of missile technology and are pushing hard to have Pyongyang slapped with strong sanctions.
The launch, which followed the North’s fourth nuclear test last month, aggravated already-strained ties between the rival Koreas. Last week, Pyongyang expelled all South Korean workers from the jointly run factory park in the North and put the area in charge of the military in retaliation for Seoul’s decision to suspend operations there.