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South Korea official apologizes for 'mini-skirt' comment

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea official apologizes for 'mini-skirt' comment
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo apologized for making a statement about women’s clothing on Monday. Song made the statement while touring Panmunjom, more than a week after a shooting at the border. Photo by Yonhap

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- South Korea's defense minister apologized immediately after making a remark about women's attire before South Korean military officers at Panmunjom.

Song Young-moo, who was visiting the Joint Security Area following a tense standoff between North and South after the defection of a North Korean soldier, issued the apology when his comment generated controversy, News 1 reported.

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South Korea's top defense official said, "the shorter mini-skirts are, the better," to a group of South Korean soldiers.

In his statement of apology, Song said he made the comment as a joke to lighten the mood at the suspenseful border, where guards may be on edge following a shooting that violated a U.N. cease-fire agreement.

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"I am deeply sorry for using an inappropriate expression after arriving later than scheduled to the [Joint Security Area] Battalion cafeteria, after visiting the JSA operation area," Song stated. "Because I was sorry about keeping soldiers waiting, I made the remark with the intention of keeping my statements short."

In what may have been an attempt to draw laughs with a pun on the word "short," originally a reference to his decision to keep his speech brief, Song may have used the metaphor of "short skirts" to make his point.

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"It's no fun [for those gathered] to listen to speeches while dining, but like mini-skirts, speeches before meals, the shorter the better," Song had said, according to South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.

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Song also irritated South Korean progressives last week, when he said it was "a relief" former national security chief Kim Kwan-jin was released after he was arrested for his alleged involvement in manipulating public opinion through online comments, during his term in the former President Lee Myung-bak administration.

Song said South Korean soldiers have maintained operations "successfully" following the dramatic defection of the soldier with the surname Oh to the South.

The defector is convalescing at a South Korean hospital.

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