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South Korea’s new president set to get robust on North

South Korea’s new president set to get tough on North

This file image taken on March 10, 2022 reveals South Korea’s new president-elect Yoon Suk Yeol (C) of the principle opposition Folks Energy Get together gesturing to supporters as he’s congratulated outdoors the occasion headquarters in Seoul. AFP

SEOUL — South Korea’s hawkish new president can be sworn in Tuesday, and he appears set to get robust with Pyongyang, departing from what he has referred to as the “subservient” strategy of his predecessor.

For the previous 5 years, Seoul has pursued a coverage of engagement with North Korea, brokering summits between Kim Jong Un and then-US president Donald Trump whereas lowering joint US navy drills Pyongyang sees as provocative.

However talks collapsed in 2019 and have languished since, whereas the nuclear-armed North has dramatically ramped up weapons exams, conducting 15 to this point this 12 months, together with the launch of its largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile.

In contrast to outgoing President Moon Jae-in, who noticed North Korea as a negotiating companion, incoming chief Yoon Suk-yeol sees the nation as an adversary, mentioned Cheong Seong-chang of the Heart for North Korea Research on the Sejong Institute.

Yoon has pledged to formally outline Pyongyang as South Korea’s “principal enemy”, Cheong added, and has not dominated out pre-emptive strikes on the North.

This tough-line stance seems to have already aggravated Pyongyang.

On Thursday, North Korean propaganda web site Uriminzokkiri mentioned Yoon was stirring up “confrontational insanity” and it was “preposterous” for him to debate pre-emptive strikes.

Tough journey

Moon, who met Kim 4 instances whereas in workplace, sought to keep away from harsh rhetorical exchanges with Pyongyang, prioritising engagement.

However Cheong warned of a tough journey forward and mentioned he anticipated no summits.

As an alternative of delicate diplomacy, Yoon desires the “full and verifiable denuclearisation” of North Korea — one thing that’s anathema to Kim, mentioned Hong Min, a researcher on the Korea Institute for Nationwide Unification.

Calling for Kim to surrender his nukes first is “too excessive a hurdle for the North to simply accept” and appears set to place a closing nail within the coffin of Moon’s cherished programme of engagement, Hong advised AFP.

Avowed anti-feminist Yoon received the election in March by the narrowest margin ever, and has since backed off a few of his extra explosive home marketing campaign guarantees, mainly his vow to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality.

His firmer strategy to North Korea, nevertheless, is already obvious: after Pyongyang test-fired a ballistic missile Wednesday, Yoon’s workforce referred to as it a “provocation”.

On the marketing campaign path, Yoon referred to as Kim a “impolite boy” and advised voters earlier this 12 months: “For those who give me an opportunity, I’ll educate him some manners.”

His language harks again to 2017’s “hearth and fury” period, when Kim and Trump traded insults by Twitter and state media.

South Korean activists additionally declare to have restarted sending propaganda balloons throughout the border, one thing Moon banned throughout his time period.

Testing, testing

Along with a record-breaking blitz of weapons exams, Kim mentioned final month he would enhance North Korea’s nuclear arsenal on the “quickest doable velocity”.

Satellite tv for pc photos now point out Pyongyang could also be getting ready to renew nuclear exams — paused since 2017.

Whereas North Korea’s weapons exams are primarily geared toward bettering navy capabilities, the regime additionally must keep away from displaying weak point throughout its pandemic isolation and sanctions-related financial woes, analysts mentioned.

“Pyongyang is signalling to the incoming administration in Seoul that useful resource constraints won’t stop it from waging a aggressive arms build-up,” mentioned Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha College in Seoul.

South Korea’s standard capability outstrips that of the North, and Yoon has referred to as for extra US navy property to be deployed within the South, a subject more likely to be on the agenda when US President Joe Biden visits Seoul later this month.

By timing weapons exams round Yoon’s inauguration and Biden’s go to, Kim might be hoping to pile on the stress, mentioned Mason Richey, affiliate professor of worldwide politics at Hankuk College of International Research.

Kim could also be aiming to “make Yoon’s hardline strategy to North Korea tougher to promote domestically”, he added.


North Korea slams South’s new chief as ‘pro-US, confrontational’

Japan retains shut eye on insurance policies of incoming South Korean president

South Korea to make nuclear energy U-turn underneath new authorities

South Koreans set to get a 12 months youthful as Yoon seeks to ditch ‘Korean age’

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