President Park Geun-hye issues tough warning and again accuses Kim Jong-un’s government of using cross-border funding to further weapons programme
South Korea’s president has warned that North Korea faces “regime collapse” if it does not abandon its nuclear programme.
Park Geun-hye made the remarks during a speech in 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 needed to take unspecified “stronger and more effective” measures to make North Korea realise its nuclear ambitions would 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 flowed to the ruling Workers’ party leadership in charge of weapons programmes.
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 as much as it wanted to the employees in North Korean currency and store vouchers, according to a statement from Seoul’s’ unification ministry.
The ministry did not detail how it arrived at that conclusion. North Korea has previously dismissed such views.
Earlier in February 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 for stronger sanctions against the regime.
The launch came after the North in January carried out its fourth nuclear test, aggravating already-strained ties between the two Koreas.
Last week Pyongyang expelled all South Korean workers from the jointly run factory park in the North and put the area under military control, in retaliation for Seoul’s decision to suspend operations there. – EIN News
Ha-young Choi of NK News adds: Despite South Korean President’s remarks and additional statement, evidence remains unclear
The South Korean government again argued on Tuesday that money from the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) was used for North Korea’s nuclear program and missile development, with the allegation this time coming from President Park Geun-hye.
Park told lawmakers on Tuesday morning at the National Assembly about the necessity of blocking the flow of funds into the KIC to prevent North Korea from improving its nuclear and missile capacities.
“We cannot continue this situation in which we are de facto sponsoring the North Korean regime’s nuclear (capacity) and missile development,” Park said during a speech she requested to deliver before the legislative body, the first time she has made such a request since her inauguration.
She emphasized that most of the funds South Korea paid were delivered to the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which is in charge of nuclear and missile development.
At the end of last week the Minister of Unification Hong Yong-pyo made a similar allegation, but didn’t give specific evidence at the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee on Monday.
“I’ve said there’s no confirmation about the specific amount (of money that was sent into the KIC),” he said in remarks carried by various media reports.
Hong said there had been a misunderstanding surrounding his previous remark that wages going into KIC had been offered to the WPK secretary and Office 39.
The ministry distributed a press release clarifying the minister’s remarks on Monday night.
“Seventy percent of the funds to the KIC have flowed into the party for nuclear weapons and missile development, luxury goods and the regime’s achievements, though it is difficult to confirm the exact amount for the nuclear program and missile development,” the press release reads.
The statement, however, didn’t reveal further evidence backing up the figures, as was urged by opposition party lawmakers and media outlets, including the conservative Chosun Ilbo.
Lawyer Song Ki-ho from Lawyers for Democratic Society said via a Facebook post on Sunday that the Republic of Korea submitted a report to the UN which clarified there was no possibility of sponsoring Pyongyang’s nuclear program or missile development in 2013.
“The Korean Government provides administrative guidance to Korean companies in order to prevent them from doing business with those banks and companies of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that are involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other prohibited activities,” page 8 of the document reads.
The report was signed by Sul Kyung-hoon, former ambassador to the UN and was submitted as proof of compliance with UN Security Council resolution 2094, early in Park’s term in office.
Meanwhile, Rep. Lee Hae-chan of the opposition Minjoo Party, who served as a prime minister under the administration of President Roh Moo-hyun (2003-08), said $520,000,000 had moved into the KIC during the administrations of President Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, while only $20,000,000 was paid under Roh.
Lee cited one businessman, an ethnic Korean based in Australia named Song who had operated a shop in the KIC at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee on Monday to refute the government’s argument.
“Seventy percent of the money is provided as a voucher to the workers, and 60-70 percent of the money goes to Song’s shop,” he said, quoting Song’s past remarks during a visit to South Korea. The businessman also received funds to import goods from China, Lee added.