SEOUL • South Korea urged North Korea yesterday to stop its "vulgar" personal attacks on President Park Geun Hye after Pyongyang described her as a "crazy old b****" in its latest diatribe.
The spat came as North Korean state media yesterday confirmed the country has a new military chief, following earlier reports in Seoul that the former holder of the post had been executed.
"We express strong regret over... the North's personal attacks that targeted our head of state with such base, vulgar language," Seoul's unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, said in a statement. "The North should... immediately stop such vulgar attacks."
Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the North's ruling communist party, yesterday slammed the South's conservative leader for seeking stronger sanctions against Pyongyang, following its nuclear and missile tests.
Headlines in the full-page coverage described Ms Park, 64, as a "murderous devil" and "senile old woman" seeking to topple the North's government with her recent moves to punish Pyongyang.
"This tail-less crazy old b**** called Park Geun Hye is heaping further misery on our people, already suffering from the tragedy of division," one article said.
The North earlier this month launched a satellite into orbit in what many saw as a disguised test of a long-range ballistic missile banned under UN resolutions.
The widely-condemned launch, following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test last month, sharply raised tension and prompted Ms Park to close a joint inter-Korea industrial zone as a reprisal.
The Kaesong industrial estate in the North, where 126 Seoul firms operated factories that employed 54,000 North Koreans, had been considered a precious source of hard currency for the impoverished North since its opening in 2004.
One of the Rodong articles also castigated Ms Park as the "dumbest of the dumb" for inflicting what it called massive financial damage on Seoul firms with the shock closure.
"This invalid, morally depraved human being... never showed any goodwill for other human beings, as well as her people," it said.
The North has habitually mounted colourful and highly sexist personal attacks on Park, who has taken a tough stance towards the northern neighbour.
It earlier likened her to a "peasant woman babbling to herself in the corner of her room" or a "prostitute" eager to please US President Barack Obama, leader of the South's major military ally.
Separately, the Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang yesterday referred to Mr Ri Myong Su, former People's Security Minister, as "chief of the Korean People's Army General Staff". His predecessor Ri Yong Gil was reportedly executed earlier this month in what would be the latest in a series of purges and executions of top officials.
In May last year, South Korea's spy agency said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his defence chief Hyon Yong Chol executed - reportedly with an anti-aircraft gun. Mr Hyon's fate was never confirmed by Pyongyang, but he has never been seen or heard from since. Some analysts have suggested he was purged and imprisoned.
Reports - some confirmed, some not - of purges, executions and disappearances have been common since Mr Kim took power, following the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.