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N. Korea overtly intervening in S. Korea's presidential race

All Headlines 09:19 October 02, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- (Yonhap) -- North Korea is clearly moving to intervene in South Korea's 2017 presidential race by blasting conservatives for trying to hold on to power, observers in Seoul said Sunday.

President Park Geun-hye and her conservative government have taken a non-conciliatory stance against Pyongyang's continued nuclear program and demanded it end its provocations. Seoul has cut off all inter-Korean economic ties that have been cited for bankrolling the North's weapons of mass destruction program.

The reclusive country's main daily, the Rodong Sinmun, said in an article last week that the plan by President Park and her supporters to retain power is in itself an affront and shameless act, and will be opposed by ordinary South Koreans.

The paper, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), said ever since Park took power in 2013, her government has sided against the Korean people and has ruled the country with an authoritarian hand. It then went on to claim that Park and her followers have a confrontational policy toward the DPRK that has caused inter-Korean relations to deteriorate to their worst levels in recent times.

The DPRK is the acronym of North Korea's full name: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The incumbent conservatives should not think of trying to hold on to power but leave politics altogether, which is the wish of the people," the paper argued.

The WPK mouthpiece in addition urged various elements in South Korean society to rise up, and send Park and her followers to their graves, clearly trying to stoke internal strife within the country.

The same paper said in a separate report said that people in the South have given up hope on Park and her supporters, and know that if they hold onto power by winning next year's presidential election, a great tragedy will befall them.

Echoing this view, Uriminzokkiri, Pyongyang's main Internet-based media and propaganda website, said in a piece released Tuesday that the South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party is already contemplating who will become the new prime minister under the newly elected government, as well as who will become party chief. It warned that if Saenuri again wins the presidency it will be a catastrophe for the Korean people as a whole.

In particular, Radio Pyongyang even lashed out at United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is widely viewed as running in the race as a conservative party standard bearer, by claiming he has no real support base and is politically incompetent.

"Ban knows very little about the challenges facing South Korea," the broadcaster claimed.

Ban, whose second five-year term at the helm of the global body, ends this year said he will return home early next year and said he will think of ways to serve his country. He has never said he will or will not run for president. His approval rating among potential runners has consistently been high, exceeding those of potential candidates from the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea like Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo from the smaller People's Party.

Local experts, meanwhile, said the North's moves to influence South Korea's parliamentary and presidential elections is nothing new.

"The more the North tries to impact South Korean elections and take sides, the opposite results generally occur," said Yang Moo-jin, a political science professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies. He said the fact that it is trying again may indicate that there is a loyalty race within the leadership's inner circle to look good to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Other scholars said that the North traditionally seems to favor the South Korean liberal camp, which has been more dovish, and wants to maintain good relations with the North.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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