South Korea President Park leaves out Kim Jong Un in unification speech

SEOUL, Aug. 15 (UPI) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye addressed the North Korean people directly in a speech on Monday that placed top priority on denuclearization.

In her unprecedented speech marking the 71st anniversary of Korean independence, Park described unification as a “new opportunity” for groups that exclude the Kim Jong Un regime but include ordinary North Koreans and officials, Yonhap reported.

“To all North Koreans and North Korean officials, unification will provide a new opportunity to pursue happiness to your fullest potential, while being treated equally, without any discrimination and disadvantages,” Park said.

Park also called for an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

“Any method to threaten [South Korea] and the Korean people will never succeed,” Park said.

Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, said the speech is a new presidential strategy.

“There is an aspect of making aware of a tactic, by the president, of turning toward isolating the top leadership of North Korea,” Kim said.

Kim also said there was no sign of presidential willingness in the speech to seek dialogue with the North Korean leadership.

Park also devoted segments of her speech to urging North Korean officials not to disregard the “basic human rights” of the North Korean people and defended Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system on the peninsula.

In June, North Korea delivered a letter to the South, requesting a joint meeting on Aug. 15.

North Korea suggested in its announcement the meeting be held either in Pyongyang or Kaesong, and that the gathering would “put an end to” the seven decades of national division.

Seoul at the time dismissed the message as an “obsolete propaganda offensive.”

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