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Dhaka Tribune

South Korea’s new leader will engage North, reconsider THAAD

Update : 10 May 2017, 04:23 PM

Some of the key policies of South Korea's Moon Jae-in, who has assumed presidential duties after being declared winner of Tuesday’s election:

Engagement with North Korea

A former aide of late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, who sought rapprochement with North Korea, Moon has been critical of the hard-line stances that conservative governments in Seoul maintained against North Korea over the past decade.

Moon says the confrontational approach did nothing to prevent North Korea from expanding its arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles and only reduced Seoul’s voice in international efforts to deal with its rival.

He calls for sanctions and pressure against Pyongyang to be balanced with engagement efforts, and says he’s open to the idea of holding talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the nuclear issue, which would mark a sharp departure from recent South Korean policy.

He also vows to reopen an industrial park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong that was jointly run by the two Koreas before the government of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is in jail awaiting a corruption trial, closed it last year following a nuclear test and long-range rocket launch by the North.

Reconsidering US anti-missile system

Moon has also shown a willingness to challenge the US, a key ally of South Korea, saying that Seoul should reconsider its deployment of an advanced US missile defence system to better cope with North Korean threats.

Moon says that the security benefits of THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, would be curtailed by worsened relations with China, whose help Washington and Seoul are trying to enlist to pressure Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

China, South Korea’s largest trade partner, has raised concerns that THAAD’s powerful radar could be used to peer deep into its territory and monitor its flights and missile launches. Seoul has raised suspicions that Beijing is retaliating against plans for THAAD by limited Chinese tour group visits to South Korea.

Curbing excesses of chaebol

Succeeding Park, the country’s first female president, Moon has vowed to end a decades-long culture that brewed murky ties between politicians and businesses.

Moon promises to launch a powerful new anti-corruption body and also curb the excesses of “chaebol,” a privileged group of family-owned conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai, which have been criticised for bribing politicians for business favours and unfairly crushing smaller companies in competition.

Creating jobs, strengthening welfare

To address a bleak job market for young people, Moon has pledged to spend 4.2 trillion won ($3.7bn) annually to create 810,000 public sector jobs over the next five years, including bureaucrats, social workers, teachers, police officers and firefighters. He promises stronger government support for small companies and startups, and to reduce South Korea’s notoriously long work hours to help boost job creation.

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