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N. Korea heats up rhetoric

SEOUL — North Korea made its first direct personal attack Wednesday on South Korea’s first female president since her inauguration two weeks ago, blaming rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula on her ‘‘venomous swish of skirt.’’

By targeting President Park Geun Hye, North Korea added a curious sartorial element to the verbal barrage it has deployed since the United States and South Korea began a joint military exercise on March 1, followed by a fresh round of sanctions from the UN Security Council.

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“This frenzy kicked up by the South Korean warmongers is in no way irrelevant with the venomous swish of skirt made by the one who again occupies’’ the presidential Blue House, the North’s Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces said in a statement, referring to Park, who returned to the residence 33 years after her father, President Park Chung Hee, was assassinated.

The statement, which was carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, reiterated that the North would not give up nuclear weapons, calling them a guarantee of security against the United States.

In North Korea’s official language at times of tension with the outside world, sexist and personal vitriol is not uncommon. The country had once called Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former US secretary of state, a ‘‘minister in a skirt.’’

But until now, North Korea had not attacked Park directly.

For her part, Park has reminded the North that the South was open to dialogue to ‘‘build trust’’ while vowing a strong response to a provocation and warning that the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons would end up in ‘‘self-destruction.’’

On Wednesday, Park’s office stuck to the same message. “If necessary, we plan to send a message to North Korea,’’ said Kim Haing, a spokeswoman for Park, adding that the two Koreas still had communication lines open after the North cut off a Red Cross line and a hotline with the US military in South Korea in recent days.

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