MOON CALLS FOR 2-STEP AP­PROACH

South Korea’s lead­ing pres­i­den­tial hope­ful set on eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, mil­i­tary uni­fi­ca­tion with the North

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

Moon Jae-in

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