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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Takes A Look at 'Evil' Korea

SEOUL, South Korea -- U.S. President George W. Bush took his tough talk about North Korea right to the communist state's frontier Wednesday, calling Pyongyang evil and urging it to open the border with the South.

Bush tempered the rhetoric with renewed calls for dialogue with the North, particularly on weapons of mass destruction, and praised South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine Policy" toward the North as a "vision of reconciliation over rivalry."

"I will not change my opinion on [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il until he frees his people and accepts genuine proposals from countries such as South Korea to dialogue," Bush said after talks with the South Korean president in Seoul.

Both leaders said their talks had been frank -- diplomatic code for saying they differed. But they shared a common goal and did not need to march in lockstep, as a U.S. official put it. Political analysts said Bush and Kim appeared to have found enough in common to bridge perceived policy gaps, particularly since Bush described North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" last month. Kim's "Sunshine Policy" favors engaging the North.

"Kim had not said anything about weapons of mass destruction in previous years, now they shared the U.S. concern," North Korea expert Paik Jin-hyun of Seoul National University said.

"South Korea was happy to hear that Bush expressed his interest in settling disputes peacefully through dialogue."

Some protesters were not so happy. Some traded punches with police and others burned U.S. flags, but the demonstrations were largely peaceful and relatively low-key.

Bush made clear the bottom line was a change in Kim Jong Il's ways.

"We're peaceful people. We have no intention of invading North Korea," said Bush, on the second leg of an Asian tour that began in Japan and will take him to China on Thursday.

North Korea, which has more than 1 million troops but receives food aid to stave off malnutrition, has rejected calls for talks, saying Bush is preparing for war.

"I'm troubled by a regime that tolerates starvation," Bush added. "I think the burden of proof is on the North Korean leader to prove that he does care about his people."

In a speech at Dorasan, the last South Korean train station before the North-South frontier and Demilitarized Zone bisecting the peninsula, Bush focused on this angle.

"That road has the potential to bring the peoples on both sides of this divided land together," Bush said, referring to a new highway that is also a road to nowhere because of the DMZ.

"For the good of all the Korean people, the North should finish it," Bush said.

Last month, Bush described North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran. He said they were developing weapons of mass destruction and aiding groups involved in terrorism.

On Wednesday, Bush stared across the last Cold War frontier into North Korea, saying he had no plans to invade and was keen to talk but ready to deter aggression. He said he would speak out until Kim Jong Il mended his ways.

Bush got his first glimpse of the North during a lunchtime visit to a U.S.-manned post right on the border in the heavily fortified DMZ, a place predecessor Bill Clinton described in 1993 as the scariest place on earth.

At Observation Post Ouellette, dressed in a green army jacket with a U.S. flag sewn on the arm, Bush peered from a sandbagged bunker -- and specially erected bulletproof glass -- at the eerily barren North Korean landscape.

Asked what he thought when he looked out over the North, Bush said: "We're ready."

The United States has 37,000 troops based in the South to back up 680,000 South Korean troops.

Seoul officials said one North Korean soldier defected during the night near the railway station where Bush spoke. He was not aware Bush was visiting, the officials said.

"Korean children should never starve while a massive army is fed," Bush said, referring to the North. "We must not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most dangerous weapons."