A day after Kim Jong Il's funeral, North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission has come out with a strong statement indicating that there will no softening of its position towards the South.
The statement, read out by a female news anchor with a stern voice on North Korean state TV, was addressed to "foolish politicians all around the world, including the puppet group in South Korea," who "should not expect any change from us."
South Korea's leadership was referred to as "the traitor group of Lee Myung-bak." The North "will never deal" with them, but force them to pay for the "hideous crimes committed at the time of the great national misfortune" which, in the North's eyes, amounted to "rubbing salt" into the wounds of its grieving people.
The National Defense Commission's statement said that the "evil misdeeds" of the Lee administration reached their peak when South Koreans, except for two delegations, were prevented from visiting North Korea to pay their respects to Kim Jong Il.
The statement also bolstered new leader, Kim Jong Un’s authority further by referring to him as "Great Leader," the third in a succession of such titles in the past few days including "Great Successor" and "Supreme Leader."
Between the lines
Regarding South Korea, the bellicose tone turned more diplomatic when the statement declared that the North "will continue to push hard toward the path of improved relations," while simultaneously warning that better ties would not be based on the "deceitful ploys South Korea is employing by mixing 'toughness' and 'flexibility'." Seoul has been saying of late that it will be more flexible in its dealings with the North in the future.
Observers and analysts - mainly from the South - agree that the North's statement is essentially a warning to Seoul not to take Pyongyang's new leadership lightly. At the same time, the world was being warned against any interference during the transition. The world was being told further that there would be no change in the North's policy and system. On the whole, North Korea watchers seem to think that the chance of any major provocation is low.
Author: Arun Chowdhury (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Sarah Berning