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South Korea’s new administration seeks dialogue and reconciliation with the North

Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, poses for photographs as he watches a television report on an exit poll of the presidential election in Seoul, South Korea May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

South Korea has moved decisively away from the militant rhetoric of impeached President Park Geun-hye. When current South Korean President Moon Jae-in was inaugurated in May of 2017, he stated clearly, “I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula if needed”.

Now, South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon has said,

“Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea’s nuclear problem”.

He further described South Korea as a country which “has no hostile policy toward North Korea”.

Cho continued saying,

“As (President Moon Jae-in) clearly stated in his Berlin doctrine that he will never pursue the collapse of North Korea and an absorption-based reunification”.

This comes as protests in South Korea continue to grow over fresh deliveries of the US THAAD missile system which Russia and China say must cease in order to pursue a long term de-escolation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

It is becoming increasingly clear that President Moon is taking a distinctly differently line towards Pyongyang via-a-vis is ardently pro-American predecessor. While South Korea’s relationship with America is not set to change under Moon as such things would be virtually impossible due to the interlocking relationship between Washington and Seoul, Moon’s view reflects that of an increased majority of South Koreans in favour of dialogue rather than hostility with the DPRK (North Korea).

Recently, South Korea’s Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan suggested that certain events in the 2018 winter Olympics could be hosted in North Korea. The proposal was later rejected by the North, but the fact remains that outreach and dialogue seem to be the prevailing attitude of the Moon administration.

In this sense, South Korea’s harmonious and placid rhetoric about Pyongyang are a welcome contrast to the irresponsible remarks which increasingly come from Washington.

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