N. Korea steps up election interference
By Kim Young-jin
Seoul called on North Korea to halt its efforts to influence the Dec. 19 elections, Friday, after Pyongyang slammed conservative presidential candidate Park Geun-hye for “distorting” history over her father’s authoritarian rule.
The North’s attack on Park, who on Monday apologized to those who suffered under the rule of late President Park Chung-hee, has been seen here as its latest attempt to sway public opinion to liberal candidates who would support engagement.
“Such actions cross the line,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said during a briefing. “They should stop immediately.”
Park, 60, said the military coup that brought her father to power and the 1972 Yushin Constitution, that allowed him to stay in power delayed South Korea's political development ― in an attempt to address personal baggage weighing down her campaign. She cited the need for security against North Korea as a reason for the authoritarianism.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea accused Park of making a “U-turn” in her stand on historical issues and for “distorting” facts.
“This is preposterous and a wanton distortion of the historical facts,” the North Korean spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
“It is needless to say that if she is allowed to come to power as she is making so desperate efforts to justify the (Yushin) dictatorship utterly indifferent to public opinion at home and abroad…will certainly meet disaster and the inter-Korean relations (will) totally collapse.”
The rhetoric came amid heightened tensions near the West Sea border after numerous intrusions by North Korean fishing boats in recent weeks that have been seen as an attempt to test the South’s nerves and cause division here.
Analysts say the North would rather see either of Park’s candidates, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party or liberal independent Ahn Cheol-soo take Cheong Wa Dae in December as both are likely to roll back President Lee Myung-bak’s hard line policy on the North.
Park calls for a bolstered defense posture against the Pyongyang, which waged two deadly attacks against the South in 2010. But she has also left the door open for engagement amid growing concerns of China’s increasing influence over its neighbor in the absence of inter-Korean relations.