North Korea took its ongoing misogynist attacks on South Korea President Park Geun-hye to a new low by calling her a “dirty comfort woman.”
On Sunday the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a North Korean state media outlet, published the full text of a statement it attributed to an unnamed spokesperson for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea. The statement was primarily comprised of a sexist tirade against President Park in the context of the recent ferry sinking and U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to South Korea.
One part of the statement stood out as especially vulgar, even by North Korea’s standards. Referring to Park, it read: “She fully met the demands of her master [U.S. President Obama] for aggression, keeping mum about the nukes of the U.S. and desperately finding fault with fellow countrymen in the north over their nukes. 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 [emphasis added].”
The term comfort women refers to the Asian women that were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japan Army during Tokyo’s colonization of Asia in the first half of the 20th Century. The comfort women issue is a particularly sensitive topic in Korea, which by some estimates is where the majority of the so called comfort women were from (estimates vary widely). The issue has long plagued South Korea and Japanese relations and has been a particularly sore point between the two countries during President Park and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s tenures in office. Thus, referring to President Park as a comfort woman is probably the most vulgar insult North Korea could have devised.
Still, it did not occur in a vacuum. For months now North Korea has used its official media outlets to engage in increasingly insulting and sexist personal attacks on President Park. Although Pyongyang has little love for any South Korean leader, North Korea seems to hold President Park in especially low regard. This distain appears to derive partly from Park’s gender and partly from the fact that her father is Park Chung Hee, South Korea’s authoritarian leader from 1961 until his assassination in 1979.
North Korea’s hatred of Park’s gender and family were both on display in the statement released on Sunday. Besides the comfort woman part of the tirade, the statement also said: “What Park did before Obama this time reminds one of an indiscreet girl who earnestly begs a gangster to beat someone or a capricious whore who asks her fancy man to do harm to [an]other person while providing sex to him.”
Regarding her family heritage, the statement said of Park, “Genes remain unchanged. Needless to say, her present behavior suggests that her fate will be just the same as that of her father Park Chung Hee who met a miserable death after being forsaken by his master and public.”
Previous North Korean statements have also suggested that Park will be assassinated like her father. Park Chung Hee was shot in 1979 by a close confidant who served as one of his bodyguards. The motive of the shooter is still hotly debated, and one conspiracy theory is that the CIA was behind Park’s killing, which North Korea’s statement appears to allude to.
In general, Park Chung Hee’s killer was not believed to be working on behalf of North Korea, however, but rather was driven by insanity, jealousy or a thirst for power. That being said, a North Korean sympathizer and possible intelligence agent tried to assassinate Park Chung Hee during a speech in 1974. President Park Chung Hee survived the assassination attempt but his wife, Yuk Young-soo—the mother of current President Park Geun-hye – was mortally wounded in the attack.
The statement was one of a few that North Korea has issued condemning President Obama’s trip to South Korea, which Pyongyang paints as demonstrating hostility towards it. Although the topics of the statements were fairly typical, KGS NightWatch rightfully pointed out that the quality of North Korea’s English translators appears to be declining.