Pyongyang called him "the worst ambassador in history" and predicted untold damage for the entire Korean people unless he went home, said Yonhap, the South Korean news agency.

"Ambassador Vershbow is the most bitchy and malignant ambassador in history," the Minju Joson, the North's cabinet newspaper, said in a commentary carried by the official (North) Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Seoul by Yonhap.

Last week Vershbow referred to North Korea as a "criminal regime" engaged in money laundering, drug running, counterfeiting and other illicit activities.

"Ambassador Vershbow is the most bitchy and malignant ambassador in history"

Commentary carried in North Korea's cabinet newspaper, Minju Joson

The remarks inflamed North Korea which said they were a "declaration of war".

Vershbow also upset many South Korean officials, who have been seeking to build bridges with Pyongyang during a delicate impasse in negotiations to end a standoff in nuclear disarmament talks.

South Korean media quoted one ruling party legislator as saying that the US envoy should leave unless he was prepared to soften his rhetoric.

Vershbow, former US ambassador to Moscow, took over in Seoul in October.