Posted : 2016-02-16 17:21
Updated : 2016-02-16 21:25

Park vows to change North Korea with sticks

President Park Geun-hye makes a speech at the National Assembly, Tuesday. / Korea Times photo by Oh Dae-geun

President says Gaeseong wages diverted for weapons development

By Kang Seung-woo

President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that South Korea will continue to take harsh steps of its own to change North Korea and make it give up its nuclear weapons program.

She warned that the Kim Jong-un regime will eventually collapse if it continues to pursue nuclear weapons.

"It has become clear that the past ways of coping with North Korea cannot curb the country's nuclear ambitions. It is time to seek fundamental solutions to actually change the North," Park said in a televised address given at the National Assembly.

"Rather than only depending on international sanctions, we need to use every trick in the book to address this issue for ourselves."

She said that without any actions to change the North, the country will, ultimately, deploy missiles with nuclear warheads.

Park said a hefty chunk of wages paid to North Korean workers at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC) was funneled to its leadership.

"Most of the dollars we paid are presumed to have been funneled into the Workers' Party responsible for nuclear and missile development, instead of being used to improve the livelihood of ordinary people," Park said.

"While the international community is seeking to ban cash flows into North Korea, we, the first party of the issue, should participate in the move to force the North to abandon its nuclear program."

Her remarks came a day after Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo reversed his claim that the government had evidence to prove that the wages were diverted for weapons programs directed by the Kim regime.

Park said that her government will stem the North's decades-long vicious cycle of creating tension in order to obtain economic aid.

"We should not be led by such a pattern by the North anymore and we should stop offering financial support following its saber-rattling, as done in the past," the President said.

The North staged its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and launched a long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7, apparently to test its ballistic missile technology.

As punishment, the South Korean government closed down the inter-Korean factory park in the belief that its payments to GIC workers had been used to bankroll the development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

Park stressed that the GIC shutdown is the beginning of a series of sanctions that South Korea and the international community will impose against North Korea.

The United Nations Security Council has been working on a resolution that will slap more sanctions on North Korea over the provocative actions.

"We will take stronger and more effective measures to create an environment where the North cannot survive with its nuclear development and it eventually will speed up the collapse of the regime," Park said.

The President added that South Korea will work together with the United States and strengthen trilateral cooperation that also includes Japan to promote denuclearization and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

"We will also continue to discuss the issue with China and Russia," she said.

All five nations are members of the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North.

After the repressive state test-fired a long-range rocket last week, the South Korean government decided to discuss deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system here with the United States.

However, the plan has prompted a backlash from China which is concerned that the THAAD radar system will locate its missiles, putting Seoul-Beijing ties under additional pressure.

"South Korea and the U.S. are in negotiations to maintain a strong deterrence, to boost our combined defense capabilities and improve the joint missile defense system against North Korea. The THAAD discussion is part of that plan," she said.

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