Presidential candidates condemn N.K. missile launch
SEOUL-- South Korea's top presidential candidates denounced North Korea Saturday after the communist state launched a ballistic missile and apparently failed.
The missile flew to a maximum altitude of 71 kilometers before exploding midair, according to the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, just 10 days ahead of the presidential election on May 9.
Front-runner Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party issued a statement urging North Korea to immediately stop its "reckless provocations" and choose the path to cooperation with the international community, including by abandoning its nuclear weapons.
"If North Korea does not accept the united demand of the international community and repeats its reckless provocations, it will face strong punishment from the international community," Park Kwang-on, public relations chief of Moon's campaign, said.
Runner-up Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-left People's Party said such provocations threaten peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the world and cannot be tolerated.
"North Korea's continued provocations in the face of the international community's concerns and strong sanctions are no different from a threat that it will go its own way regardless of what anyone says," said a statement released by his campaign team. "North Korea must come to realize that it has nothing to gain from continued provocations."
Ahn promised to lead efforts to stop North Korea's provocations and open the door for dialogue with the communist regime if elected.
Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party warned that the North will have to bear "due responsibility" for its reckless behavior.
In a press briefing, Hong's campaign spokesman Kim Myung-yeon also claimed that the former prosecutor and provincial governor is the only candidate capable of overcoming the security crisis on the peninsula without bowing to the North's leader Kim Jong-un.
"Through cooperation with the international community and deterrence against North Korea, (we) can build a strong Republic of Korea (South Korea) that North Korea won't dream of provoking," Kim said.
Sim Sang-jeung of the progressive Justice Party said North Korea's provocations will not be tolerated by the international community and only bring deeper isolation to the Pyongyang regime.
"North Korea should abandon its shallow scheme of promoting regime stability through a show of force and hurry to come forward to the dialogue table," her campaign said in a statement.
Yoo Seong-min of the splinter conservative Bareun Party called for action, not words, to defend the nation from the recalcitrant state.
"(We) strongly condemn North Korea's provocations that threaten world peace and hope that our political circles will be able to put aside political disputes and speak with one voice on national security issues," his campaign spokesman Ji Sang-wuk said.
Speaking on his campaign trail in Sacheon, 437 kilometers southeast of Seoul, Yoo also called attention to a possible nuclear test by the North.
"If North Korea carries out a sixth nuclear test, judging from the current relations between the U.S. and China, I think it will be increasingly difficult for China to take sides with the North any longer," he said.
Under such circumstances, South Korea and the U.S. should persuade China to exert more pressure on the North, which will lead Kim Jong-un and other North Korean leaders to abandon their policies, Yoo argued.
"That is when we will have talks (with the North)," he said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency