North Korea on Monday weighed into South Korea's impending presidential race by taking aim at Saenuri Party contenders Park Geun-hye, Chung Mong-joon and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo. The North threatened to reveal what it said were flattering remarks the three made during their visits to the North.
North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued what it called a "public interrogation" of the Lee Myung-bak administration and the ruling party and claimed they would "lose face" by continuing to accuse opposition lawmakers of being pro-North Korean when Cheong Wa Dae, the government and Saenuri Party themselves were full of people with "internal ties" to the North.
"In May 2002, Park Geun-hye, who received a warm welcome" from former leader Kim Jong-il "made plenty of pro-North Korean remarks during her trip to Pyongyang," it claimed. It added South Koreans would also faint if it revealed all the remarks Chung and Kim made during their visits to the North.
Referring to former South Korean intelligence chiefs Lee Hu-rak, Chang Se-dong and Suh Dong-kwon, who made secret trips to Pyongyang in the past, North Korea said they should be considered pro-North Korean since they "made internal contact with us, toured sacred spots of the revolution and even presented gifts."
Park denied the accusation, saying she "made no pro-North comments whatsoever" during her visit to Pyongyang and urged North Korea to reveal whatever it claims to have. Chung accused North Korea of "meddling" in South Korean politics and urged the North to stop making "explicit threats" against politicians here ahead of the presidential election.
Pundits said the North is evidently trying to interfere directly in South Korean elections, "sending a message to embattled leftwingers in South Korea that they are not fighting a lonely battle," according to Sohn Kwang-joo at the Gyeonggi Research Institute.