Lunes, 17 Diciembre, 2018

Moon's rise to power in S Korea causes worries, hopes overseas

South Korea's new President Moon Jae-in waves from a car after his inauguration ceremony outside of the National Assembly in Seoul South Korea Wednesday Moon's rise to power in S Korea causes worries, hopes overseas
Eleena Tovar | 10 May, 2017, 16:46

South Korea might see a sharp departure from recent policy under Moon, who favors closer ties with North Korea, saying hard-line conservative governments did nothing to prevent the North's development of nuclear-armed missiles and only reduced South Korea's voice in worldwide efforts to counter North Korea. Speaking to supporters in Seoul's central square Tuesday night, Moon declared victory, saying, "I will be a president for all the people", and pledged to unify the country after a dramatic six months that saw the impeachment and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye.

Though there's a concern that THAAD could up the ante in an arms race, Beijing's concerns largely have to do with the missile defense system's powerful radar, which could be used to monitor activity inside China, experts say.

It was during this period that Moon, a human rights lawyer and former special-forces commando, entered the world of national politics.

"I am confident to lead the diplomatic efforts involving multiple parties, which will lead to the complete abandonment of the North Korean nuclear program, and bring the relationship between South and North to peace, economic cooperation and mutual prosperity", Moon said in an April 25 debate.

But Moon's election appears to herald the rebirth of the South's so-called sunshine policy toward the North.

His inauguration ceremony was held at the National Assembly in Seoul at midday (0300 GMT).

"I became desperate, and chose to become stronger to heal the wounds of people", Moon said. Lee Sun-jin, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he visited a national cemetery in Seoul where he wrote in a visitor book: "A country worth being proud of; a strong and reliable president!"

The leaders of China and Japan sent their congratulations.

To realise his liberal dream of national unification, Moon will have to confront a much larger challenge than anything his predecessors faced. The usual circumstances of the election and immediate transition into office meant Moon inherited several officials from Park's government, and he has moved quickly to replace them.

Moon draws comparisons with Europe and the United States to make his point for a more approachable government.

But challenging Washington on THAAD would be hard for Moon, despite widespread opposition to it in South Korea - especially after Trump suggested South Korea should pay the roughly $1 billion bill for it - and loud protests from China, which claims the system is a security threat.

Moon will still serve out the typical single five-year term.

With 41 percent of the vote, Moon beat conservative candidate Hong Joon-pyo and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo.

Park's trial on bribery, extortion and other corruption charges could send her to jail for life if she is convicted. Dozens of high-profile figures, including Park's longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and Samsung's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, have been indicted along with Park.

Japan, which disbursed 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) a year ago to a South Korean fund to help former comfort women and their families in line with the terms of the deal, claims installation of statues symbolizing the comfort women in South Korea contravenes the agreement.

Moon's more conciliatory approach to North Korea adds to uncertainty in bilateral and trilateral cooperation with the United States, given Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's vocal support for Trump's increased pressure on the North. Many of those legacies dated to the dictatorship of Park's father, Park Chung-hee, whose 18-year rule was marked by both rapid economic rise and severe civil rights abuse. So he pursued direct engagement with North Korea, and his "Sunshine Policy" was taken up by his successor, Roh Moo-hyun.

Talking to reporters, Suh endorsed Moon's call for a summit meeting with North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, although saying it would be hard for such a meeting to take place soon, considering the tension over the North's nuclear program.