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North Korea must be taken seriously - Kiwi diplomat

Wednesday 8 May 2013 5:10 p.m.

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New Zealand's most powerful diplomat in South Korea says North Korea's posturing and rhetoric need to be taken seriously.

South Korea's new president has met with Barack Obama on her first foreign visit since taking office - and the pair of presidents have used the occasion to launch a verbal assault on the North.

"Everybody needs to watch North Korea closely and that's what everybody does," says ambassador Patrick Rata.

The United States and South Korean Presidents have met - for the first time since President Park Geun-Hye took office and while an offer's been made to talk with the North they're using fighting words.

"North Korea's more isolated than ever - in short the days when North Korea could create a crisis and illicit concessions, those days are over," says Mr Obama.

North Korea's rhetoric has been dismissed by some as empty posturing.

The country has called former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton a "funny lady" who looks like a "pensioner going shopping", and also blamed the tensions between the North and South on the "venomous swish" of President Park's skirt.

She's known as the Iron Lady of Asia and says if North Korea attacks the South will not hold back

"We will make them pay," she says.

Mr Rata says people in South Korea are anxious, but still going about their business.

For him that includes high profile bilateral meetings, like with South Korea's favourite son, Psy -though Mr Rata says didn't pick up any of the singer's famous moves.

"No, I've never given it a punt I have to say," he says.

And says he's not likely too either - there are after all a few more pressing issues on his plate.

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