SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Friday expressed deep regret over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s condemnation of President Park Geun-hye by her name.
"It is deeply regrettable that North Korea (DPRK) criticized our head of state with unmentionable words by name," Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told an emergency press briefing.
The DPRK's Policy Department of the National Defense Commission (NDC) said in a spokesman's statement earlier Friday that if "Park Geun-hye and her cohorts" seek ruthlessly to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear program and subvert its regime in collusion with foreign power under the pretext of causing changes in the DPRK, it would be equivalent to "digging its own graves."
It was the third time for the DPRK to denounce President Park by name since she took office in February. The latest occurred in July.
Kim dismissed the DPRK's condemnation as "irrational" behavior, noting that such slandering of the country's chief executive would throw a wet blanket on the trust-building between Seoul and Pyongyang through dialogue and cooperation.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula showed short-term easing signs following the reopening of the joint industrial park in the DPRK' s border town of Kaesong in mid-September. But relations between the two Koreas strained once again after the DPRK unilaterally delayed the reunion of families separated by the Korean War (1950- 53) that was originally scheduled to be held late last month at Mount Kumgang resort.
President Park said in her Tuesday speech to mark the 65th Armed Forces Day that Seoul should preemptively secure its defense system to respond to the DPRK's nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, stressing that it would make the DPRK recognize that its missiles and nuclear weapons will be useless.
Park said in her meeting with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Pyongyang should be aware that pushing for both nuclear weapons and economic development would be an illusion, urging the DPRK to take a strategy of reform and opening for its own survival.
On Wednesday, Seoul and Washington agreed to take preemptive measures with all military capabilities available if signs of the DPRK's nuclear strikes are detected. Under the stage of impending usage of the nuclear weapons, the two allies may preemptively take military actions such as the American nuclear umbrella, conventional strikes and missile defense capabilities.
The DPRK's NDC said that Park should not try to make Pyongyang "change" and force it to give up nuclear weapons, promising that it will "continue to simultaneously push forward with the building of nuclear force and economic construction."
Meanwhile, tensions escalated in the Northeast Asian region after Japan disclosed its military ambition with stronger self- defense forces.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their Japanese counterparts during the so-called ' two-plus-two' meeting in Tokyo on Thursday to revise the 1997 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation. The revision will increase security and defense collaboration between the two allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
The gathering was highlighted by intense interest in Japan as the Japanese government was reportedly mulling expanding role of its self-defense forces, the Pentagon said. Kerry and Hagel were the first U.S. secretaries of state and defense to attend such a meeting in Tokyo.
Some South Korean opposition lawmakers on Friday criticized Japan for seeking a greater role with its stronger self-defense forces.
"Given no sufficient repentance over its past atrocities and no sufficient compensation for them, Japan seeking to become a military power under the pretext of self-defense would give a deep scar to neighboring countries that suffered from Japan's past aggression, while escalating military tensions in Northeast Asia," Lee Jong-geol of the main opposition Democratic Party said in a joint statement with three other legislators from the same party.
The South Korean lawmakers stressed that the strengthening of Japan's military power would cause unnecessary military tensions in Northeast Asia.
U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan on Friday to conduct joint maritime drills with Seoul and Tokyo next week. The 97,000 ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier entered Busan, some 450 kilometers south of Seoul, along with guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam CG-54 and guided-missile destroyer USS Preble DDG 88.
The George Washington Strike Group, which belongs to the U.S. 7th Fleet and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka in Japan, planned to stay in Busan for four days before carrying out joint military drills with South Korea and Japan in waters off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula for three days from Oct. 8.