SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea expressed outrage Monday over a rhetorical attack on President Park Geun-hye by the North Korean government that likened her to a prostitute in a tirade far exceeding even the North's often strident standards.
The statement issued by the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea expressed anger over President Barack Obama's visit to Seoul last week. It said Park was like a "despicable prostitute" with Obama as her pimp.
The North's officials and state-run media frequently use flourishes of inflammatory rhetoric. They have called past South Korean presidents dogs, but have shown a particular penchant for insulting Park with sexist slurs.
"She thus laid bare her despicable true colors as a wicked sycophant and traitor, a dirty comfort woman for the U.S. and despicable prostitute selling off the nation," said the statement, which was carried by the North's state-run media on Sunday and broadcast on nationwide television on Monday.
In a statement of its own, South Korea's Unification Ministry strongly criticized the comments, saying they were immoral and contained words that were unacceptable. It also noted North Korea just two months ago called for both Koreas to stop slandering each other.
The tirade was in response to Obama's visit to Seoul on Friday and Saturday.
At a joint news conference with Park, Obama said it may be time to consider further sanctions against North Korea "that have even more bite." South Korean officials have warned the North could be preparing for its fourth nuclear test. Park said the North is "fully ready now" to conduct another nuclear test.
"Obama's visit to South Korea sends a strong message to North Korea that its provocative acts cannot be tolerated," she said.
The North's barrage against Park was particularly tone-deaf as it comes as her government is dealing with the tragedy of a ferry sinking that has left hundreds dead or missing. The statement slammed Obama for going to Seoul at such a time, saying he should have postponed or shelved his trip.