North Korea issued a personal attack on South Korean President Park Geun-hye yesterday, accusing her of breaking a moratorium on cross-border insults and behaving like a "blabbering" peasant woman.
The attack referenced a speech Park made on Monday at a nuclear summit in The Hague in which she voiced concern that Pyongyang's nuclear material could end up in terrorist hands, and warned of a possible Chernobyl-style disaster at the North's main Yongbyon nuclear complex.
A spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Park's remarks "violently trampled" on an agreement reached at high-level talks last month for the two Koreas to stop "slandering" one another.
If Park genuinely wanted to see improvements in inter-Korean relations, "she first has to stop rambling recklessly and learn how to speak with discretion", the spokesman said in a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency.
"Even if someone else wrote the dumb speech for her to read from, she should at least know what and what not to say … in order not to embarrass herself.
"She should realise she is no longer a peasant woman blabbering to herself in the corner of her room but the occupant of the [presidential] Blue House," he said.
North Korea has made similarly vitriolic attacks on Park in the past. This was the first since last month's agreement. North Korea had pushed hard for the "no slander" clause, which observers said was always going to prove problematic.
North Korea insisted it should extend to the media and private groups and individuals. South Korea argued it could not restrict freedom of speech.
Seoul is also unlikely to accept that Park's comments at the nuclear summit amounted to slander.
The North on Wednesday test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles, as US President Barack Obama hosted a Japan-South Korea summit aimed at uniting the three nations against Pyongyang's nuclear threat.
United Nations resolutions prohibit North Korea from conducting ballistic missile tests and the UN Security Council was set to hold closed-door consultations yesterday to discuss a possible condemnation of the latest missile launches.
Merkel's 'duty' to aid Korean unity
Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Germany's support during a visit by South Korea's president for efforts to unify the Korean peninsular, saying its own reunification gave it a "duty" to help others.
Merkel was speaking with President Park Geun-hye, who is on a state visit to Germany. "Germany was divided for 40 years … Therefore it's our goal and also, a bit, our duty to help others when they would like to establish their national unity," she said.
Merkel said German and South Korean foreign ministries would hold talks on the issue.
Park said her country and Germany had a "bond" as they shared the "painful experience" of division.