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New South Korean President Vows to Work with North Korea

May 11, 2017
Plain English Version

South Korea’s president-elect, greeting supporters in Seoul. Photo Credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters.

It sometimes seems like there are three parties in the crisis. They are the U.S., China, and North Korea. There is a fourth party in the crisis. It is South Korea. South Korea just elected a new president. He is Moon Jae-in. He is the leader of the South Korean Democratic Party.

North Korea is setting itself up as a nuclear power. It insists it will be able to reach the U.S. with a nuclear missile soon. Why it would want to start a nuclear war with America is not clear.

The U.S. says it will not live under a nuclear threat from North Korea. President Trump said the U.S. could strike North Korea. He sent U.S. Naval warships to the area. He installed a new missile defense system in South Korea.

What is the view of the new South Korean president? He wants to restart an older approach. It is the “sunshine policy.” The last meeting between the two Koreas was in 2007. The father of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un met with the mentor of Mr. Moon.

Times change. There is now great tension in the Korean peninsula. What happened and what can all the parties do about it?

North Korea sees the United States as the biggest threat to the regime.

China is the biggest ally of North Korea. It fears millions of refugees coming to China if the regime falls.

South Korea will suffer the most if a war breaks out. Meanwhile, it is a big trading partner of China.

While he is going forward, Mr. Moon has to keep a fact in mind. South Korea and the U.S. have an almost seventy-year alliance. It began with the Korean War in 1950. The U.S. has a commitment to defend Korea if war breaks out.

The biggest question is can President Moon pursue a new policy with Kim Jung-un? Mr. Moon wants to hold talks to convince North Korea to back down from its threats. He says that diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and trade are the best ways to peace.

At the same time, he must keep the U.S. satisfied. Can Mr. Trump, who is the hawk, work with Mr. Moon, who is the dove?

Trump and Moon will soon meet. They will pledge to work together. Most important is whether the leader of North Korea has any interest other than keeping the power his rule gives him.

Source: The New York Times May 9, 2017


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