Moon rises: New South Korean president raises hopes of regional peace

Moon rises: New South Korean president raises hopes of regional peace


In a significant political change in South Korea, left-leaning former human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in has become the country’s new president. Moon’s election comes in the aftermath of a major corruption and influence peddling scandal that had rocked South Korea and led to the impeachment of the previous president, Park Geun-hye. The son of North Korean refugees, Moon also takes over the leadership mantle amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. Unlike his predecessor, he has advocated talks with the North, even asserting that he was willing to travel to Pyongyang for the sake of peace.
How this squares with US President Donald Trump taking an aggressive approach to North Korea remains to be seen. Washington has asserted that all options are open in dealing with the North Korean imbroglio, including the use of force. However, US taking unilateral action would be unwise given that its allies South Korea and Japan are within range of North Korean missiles and artillery. No action must be undertaken to which Seoul and Tokyo haven’t signed on fully.
Moon is touted as a negotiator and his skills will come in handy to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula. As things stand neither is North Korea likely to give up its nukes, nor is China particularly inclined to help the US. What is key is that there is no quick fix to this situation, nor is there any immediate danger from North Korea if it is left alone. The only answer therefore is strategic patience and dialogue. That is the approach Moon will need to persuade the Trump administration to adopt. Moon’s favouring more independence in ties with the US – a stance not contrary to Trump’s own foreign policy vision – creates some common ground.


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