S. Korea urges DPRK to end anti-Lee smear campaign

SEOUL, April 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday to stop bad-mouthing the South's conservative leader Lee Myung-bak as the defamation campaign against him intensifies.

During a recent rally, tens of thousands of DPRK people demanded Lee apologize for allegedly insulting the DPRK leadership, calling him a "traitor" and "rat" and demanding his death.

In a statement carried by the state media Monday, Pyongyang's foreign ministry branded Lee "human scum," accusing him of " malignantly desecrated" the birth centennial of the DPRK's founding father Kim Il Sung.

The barrage of verbal attacks follows on the heels of the DPRK' s failed rocket launch, which Lee repeatedly denounced as a provocative and reckless act.

Lee, who came to office in 2008 with a pledge to get tougher on the prickly northern neighbor, has said some 850 U.S. million dollars spent on what he believes was a disguised missile test could have fed the DPRK people.

The president also said over the weekend the DPRK should carry out a land reform, prompting Pyongyang's state-owned newspaper to call it an attempt to lead the regime to collapse.

"We are deeply concerned that North Korea (DPRK) is intensifying its criticism of the South and thus raising tensions and souring inter-Korean relations," a unification ministry spokesman said during a briefing. "We urge the North to immediately end (the smear campaign)."

South Korea wants peaceful reunification with its former wartime enemy and is not seeking a regime collapse, the spokesman said.