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S. Korean media sound alarm over ‘nuclear maniac’

In Seoul, dozens of protesters burned an effigy of the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un

Published: Updated:

South Korean newspapers sounded the alarm on Saturday over what one termed the “nuclear maniac” Kim Jong-Un, saying the North Korean leader’s fifth and biggest nuclear test is a game-changer demanding a tougher response.

One newspaper urged Seoul to persuade its ally Washington to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons withdrawn from South Korea in the early 1990s.

The Joongang Ilbo also urged China to cut off oil supplies to its ally and neighbor.

“High time for switching gear in nuclear deterrence against North,” read its front-page headline.

Kim had “crossed the river of no return,” it said in an editorial headlined “The North’s fifth nuclear test that expedites its own demise.”

The banner headline of the top-selling Chosun Ilbo read “South Korea left unguarded before nuclear maniac.”

Splashed below was a cartoon of Kim mounted on a galloping horse, his face distorted with anger and his hands clasping nuclear missiles.

In an editorial entitled “Counter-measures against the North’s nuclear program must change completely,” Chosun said the North had been successful in its “nuclear gambling” but cracks had begun to appear inside its system.

“We must set up and actively pursue a strategy to isolate Kim Jong-Un and his clique from within and topple them,” the conservative paper said.

The leftist Hankyoreh daily also said it “strongly condemns” the latest nuclear test.

But it said the repeated tests reflect a failure in the existing approach to the mounting crisis.

“There won’t be any solution in expressing anger to the North and keeping putting pressure on it. We must go beyond Cold War-style confrontation,” it said.

“We must stop pinning our hopes on the unrealistic theory that the North is coming close to implosion. Instead, a new, comprehensive strategy is needed.”

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed to start work at once on a new series of sanctions on North Korea after its fifth nuclear test drew global condemnation.

During a closed-door meeting on Friday, the council strongly condemned the test and agreed to begin drafting a new resolution under article 41 of the UN charter, which provides for sanctions.

“The members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on appropriate measures under article 41 in a Security Council resolution,” New Zealand’s Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, who holds the council’s rotating presidency, told reporters after the urgent talks.

South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China all condemned the blast at the Punggye-ri nuclear site, the North’s most powerful yet at 10 kilotons.

In Seoul, dozens of protesters burned an effigy of the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un and North Korean flags and called for “strong retaliation”, including pre-emptive attacks on the North’s nuclear complex.

“Eliminate Kim Jong-Un!” and “Destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons!” the elderly activists shouted.