Back in March, South Korea’s Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye due to numerous scandals that surrounded her. Authorities arrested her three weeks later and authorities claimed she “abused the mighty power and position as President to take bribes from companies and infringed upon the freedom of corporate management and leaked important confidential official information.”

Well, Park was friendly with the U.S. and agreed with our officials on North Korea. Her ouster led to an opportunity for more liberal officials to rise to power who want to take a softer approach on North Korea.

That’s exactly what happened. Democratic candidate Moon Jae-in won the election yesterday, which may “mean an overhaul for Seoul’s policy on North Korea. He even said that he would “visit rival North Korea under the right conditions.”

The Election

Here are the final results:

Moon lost to Park in the 2012 election, but his election to the presidency “will end almost a decade of conservative rule in South Korea.” From The Washington Post:

“From tomorrow onward, I will serve as your president,” Moon told cheering crowds of supporters in Gwanghwamun Plaza, the central Seoul square where hundreds of thousands of South Koreans held candlelight protests against President Park Geun-hye, leading up to her impeachment and triggering Tuesday’s election.

“I will become the president for everyone, even those who didn’t support me,” said Moon, who lost to Park in the 2012 presidential election.

But did people vote for Moon because they want a softer stance against North Korea or because of change? WaPo continued:

But many South Koreans were voting against conservatives rather than for Moon, said Kang Won-taek, a professor of political science at Seoul National University.

“What people who were protesting wanted was political change, and a natural consequence of that is a change in government,” Kang said.

Moon understands this by promising “to improve transparency in government appointments and strengthen regulations on the conglomerates that dominate corporate South Korea.” Gee, this sounds familiar!

This also sounds familiar. Moon also promised the South Koreans he will “put together a huge stimulus package, to create 810,000 public-sector positions and to reduce long working hours.”

How This Will Affect the U.S.

The U.S. has protected South Korea since the peninsulas agreed to a truce in the Korean War. Technically, they remain at war. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has raised tensions recently by threatening nuclear weapon developments and shooting missiles off into the sea with some reaching close to the coast of Japan.

But our Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in South Korea has become a huge thorn in the side of North Korea and China. The U.S. and South Korea insist that the system is for protection against North Korea, but China has objected to it. Experts said that China has concerns the countries will use the system “to spy on China’s activities, rather than monitor incoming missiles from North Korea” and it could “undermine its ability to respond to an attack on its own soil.”

Beijing has grown tired of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un, but the country still enjoys the communist kingdom since officials can use it “to keep U.S. power in the region from expanding to its doorstep.”

Moon has announced that he will “sincerely negotiate” with our officials and China over THAAD. He did not go into details, though. President Donald Trump called Moon after he was sworn in. From The New York Times:

Mr. Trump called Mr. Moon hours after he was formally sworn in on Wednesday. The two leaders agreed to maintain a strong alliance and cooperate in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, Mr. Moon’s office said. They also agreed to hold a summit meeting in Washington at the earliest opportunity, it said.

“The alliance with the United States is and will always be the foundation of our diplomacy and national security,” Mr. Moon was quoted as telling Mr. Trump. “The alliance is more important than ever, given the rising uncertainty surrounding the Korean Peninsula.”

Mr. Moon’s comments appeared aimed at easing fears that his new liberal government and its eagerness for diplomatic and economic engagement with North Korea may create a rift with Washington.

North Korea

Despite Kim Jong-un showing his strength, Moon wants to soften the tone with the communist kingdom. From USA Today:

In a speech at the National Assembly, Moon pledged to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula amid growing worry over the North’s expanding nuclear weapons and missiles program.

“I will quickly move to solve the crisis in national security. I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula — if needed, I will fly immediately to Washington. I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo. If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang,” Moon said.

Even though Trump and Moon spoke, the South Korean president wants his country to take the lead in negotiations with North Korea. The NYT continued:

Compared with his two conservative predecessors, who had stressed a united front with Washington in punishing the North, Mr. Moon has often called for his country to take the lead in easing tensions on the divided peninsula through dialogue.

“I will do whatever it takes to help settle peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Moon said during a speech at the National Assembly, where he was formally sworn in on Wednesday. “If necessary, I will fly immediately to Washington.”


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