By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – A major North Korean propaganda website denounced on Thursday South Korea’s incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol, who has vowed to take a tougher line on weapons tests by Pyongyang, describing him as “pro-United States”, and “confrontational”.
The North’s state media have yet to make formal comments on Yoon, a conservative who is set to take office on May 10, but the website Uriminzokkiri issued scathing criticism ahead of his inauguration. “Yoon Suk-yeol had aroused shock with such preposterous remarks as ‘preemptive strike’ and ‘main enemy,’ and stirred up confrontational madness trumpeting a ‘stronger South Korea-U.S. alliance,'” it said.
It was referring to comments by Yoon that he would allow a pre-emptive strike on North Korea if signs of attack were imminent, and his description of the neighbouring nation as a “main enemy”. That description of the North has been shunned by outgoing progressive President Moon Jae-in, who had sought to improve relations.
The propaganda site’s remarks are a departure from past practice, when state media have trumpeted news of a missile test by the North on the day following, but have this time kept silent, instead, about Wednesday’s weapons test. The propaganda site criticised Yoon and his picks for ministers of defence, foreign affairs and the unification portfolio as “pro-U.S. toadies” who had sought confrontation while serving in previous conservative governments.
“There’s nothing strange for him to nominate pro-U.S. toadies seeking confrontation with the same people,” it added. On Wednesday, South Korea’s military reported the North’s 14th known weapons test this year, which analysts said could aim at testing its reconnaissance satellite technology. In March, South Korea said a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) exploded mid-air soon after liftoff. State media made no mention at the time, but another, presumably successful, ICBM launch took place days later.
“North Korea might not announce failed tests, but it’s too early to say that’s the case, and the latest launch appeared rather successful as it showed some progress,” said Park Won-gon, a professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.