Out Of North Korea, A Sexist Rant Against South's President

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In a message from its state news agency, North Korea called South Korea's president a "crafty prostitute" to her "pimp," President Obama. The verbal assault followed Obama's trip to South Korea.


North Korea is offering its view of President Obama's trip to Asia and it isn't pretty. The official North Korean news agency used especially harsh language about South Korea's president who hosted Obama last week. By the way, we're about to hear more about that harsh language, so consider this a head's up if any children are listening. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The statement is ironically from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea. It blasts South Korean President Park Geun-hye for hosting President Obama at a time when the country's in mourning over the ferry tragedy and for using the meeting to threaten North Korea. It says Park was like a quote "capricious whore" asking her fancy man to do harm to another while providing sex to him.

A South Korean spokesman urged the North to stop the foul language. A senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Scott Snyder, says he doesn't expect the U.S. or the Republic of Korea to get into a war of words with the north.

SCOTT SNYDER: There's never any benefit to trying to get into a shouting match with North Korea. They'll always find a way to trump you on the rhetoric.

KELEMEN: Snyder says the committee that put out the statement is known for its propaganda, but this was more, as he puts it, high decibel than usual, so North Korea watchers took note.

SNYDER: You know, one way of measuring the success of U.S.-ROK summits is how the North Koreans respond. By that measure, I would say that President Obama's trip to South Korea was very successful.

KELEMEN: Before this, Snyder says, the North had been sending mixed signals to the South, offering condolences for the victims of the ferry disaster, so he was a bit surprised by the personal attack on President Park. So was former White House advisor on North Korea, Victor Cha, who thinks this tells you something about North Korea's leader, Kim Jung-Un.

VICTOR CHA: This young fellow is willing to go beyond the bounds of what is considered normal. And you use that term in quotation marks, normal North Korean behavior. Again, there has always been bluster against past South Korean leaders, but not to the sort of level that this last set of comments went to.

KELEMEN: And Cha, the director of Georgetown University's Asian Studies program, says the timing of the statement is also concerning. It comes amid indications that the North Koreans may be preparing another nuclear test and the U.S. needs to stay focused on that.

CHA: Unfortunately, the record of a quarter century of U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, one thing we have not been good at is deterring nuclear tests. We can certainly monitor them, try to gain information from them, but we've had a terrible record of deterring nuclear tests or missile tests.

KELEMEN: When it comes to North Korea, he says, U.S. policy tends to just respond to the latest crisis and North Korea watchers here think the Obama administration needs to get ready for another provocation. That's been one topic of President Obama's trip to the region. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

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