MOON CALLS FOR 2-STEP APPROACH
South Korea’s leading presidential hopeful set on economic, political, military unification with the North
THE liberal politician expected to succeed disgraced Park Geun-hye as South Korea’s next president could make significant policy changes on North Korea, on a United States missiledefence system that has enraged China and on big businesses.
A presidential election will be held by May 9 and opinion polls suggested South Koreans would opt for change by electing a liberal into the Blue House, ending nine years of conservative rule.
The front-runner is Moon Jaein, a human rights lawyer who was a top aide to former president Roh Moo-hyun, an advocate of a “sunshine policy” of engagement with North Korea.
Moon called for a “two-step” approach on North Korea, with talks leading first to “economic unification” and ultimately “political and military unification”.
Moon yesterday stressed the need to “embrace and be united with” the North Korean people, adding that he could never accept its “dictatorial regime” or its trampling of rights.
He denounced the North’s “cruel and ruthless behaviour” in the wake of the murder in Malaysia last month of Kim Jongnam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But he said there was no choice but to recognise Jong-un.
“We can’t deny that the ruler of the North Korean people is Jongun. We have no choice but to recognise Jong-un, whether we put pressure and impose sanctions on North Korea or hold dialogues.”
A conciliatory line might face opposition from its main ally, the US, where President Donald Trump’s aides are pressing to complete a strategy review on how to counter North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.
Some conservatives have denounced Moon as “pro-North”.
He would also face ire if he were to delay deployment of a US missile-defence system.
Moon said a final decision on deployment should be made by the next government, and Parliament should approve it.
But that could cost him in the polls if defence become a big election issue, said Myong jin University politics professor Kim Hyong-joon.