Moon Jae-in Elected in South Korea, Promises New Push for Peace With North
May 10, 2017
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Lee Jung-ae / The Hankyoreh
In a move that had been widely expected by the polls, Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in has won the presidency of South Korea. Moon is a major departure from the recent string of hawks in the South Korean presidency, advocating peaceful reunification with North Korea. He is seen as keen to return to the Sunshine Policy of the early 2000s, aimed at improving bilateral ties and trying to avoid war. That's not likely to sit well with the Trump Administration.
Moon Elected in South Korea,
Promising New Push for Peace With North
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 9, 2017) -- In a move that had been widely expected by the polls, Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in has won the presidency of South Korea today, following a special by-election which related the impeached Park Geun-hye. Moon had previously run for president in 2012, but narrowly lost to Park, who is now facing serious charges of bribery and abuse of power.
Moon is a major departure from the recent string of hawks in the South Korean presidency, advocating peaceful reunification with North Korea and promising to visit the reclusive nation at the first opportunity after the election. He is seen as keen to return to the Sunshine Policy of the early 2000s, aimed at improving bilateral ties and trying to avoid war.
That's not likely to sit well with the Trump Administration, which has repeatedly panned diplomacy in general as a "failed" tactic and has been talking up increasingly confrontational policies toward North Korea. Moon, however, is well aware of this, saying he thinks it is very important that South Korea should develop a less lop-sided relationship with the US ,and "learn to say no to the Americans."
Moon is also a former human rights lawyer who seeks to outright repeal a number of South Korea's repressive national security laws, and dramatically reform the National Intelligence Service, transforming it into an overseas-only intelligence agency, and eliminating its broad domestic spying powers.
The reforms are both a part of his general desire to turn South Korea into a more "responsible" nation in the region, and out of the practical reality that the harsh national security state has leaned heavily toward conservatives for years, and has made the election of Democrats and other opposition figures like himself all but impossible, barring surprise circumstances like an impeachment.
Moon is also pushing for the reopening to Kaesong Industrial Park, an industrial facility in which South Korean companies can employ North Korean workers. The site has been closed repeatedly in the midst of tensions, but is also seen as a key way for South Korea to foster an improved relationship with its long-time rival.
Moon Jae-in Says South Korea
Should Be Able to Say "No" to the US
Lee Jung-ae / The Hankyoreh
(March13, 2017) -- In a New York Times interview, Moon Jae-in, former leader of the Minjoo Party and leading presidential candidate for South Korea's opposition, discussed need to bring North Korea back to negotiating table.
"Whether we put pressure and sanctions on North Korea or engage in dialogue to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, we have no choice but to acknowledge that Kim Jong-un is the person we're actually dealing with," said Moon Jae-in, former leader of the Minjoo Party and leading presidential candidate for South Korea's opposition, on March 12.
Moon also addressed China's retaliatory measures against the THAAD missile defense system deployment: "While I fully understand that China is worried and voicing its opposition, the THAAD deployment is strictly a South Korean security issue and falls within our sovereignty. It's not right for China to go beyond expressing its opposition by putting excessive pressure to make its opposing view a reality."
This was how Moon responded to reporters who asked him how he would address the North Korean nuclear issue and the THAAD deployment issue in a press conference at the headquarters of the Minjoo Party in Seoul, on Mar. 12.
In an article printed on March 10, the New York Times quoted Moon as saying that South Korea's relationship with the US should be developed and strengthened, but that it should not be lopsided. Moon also said that South Korea should to learn to "say 'No' to the Americans," the New York Times reported.
After Moon's interview and press conference were made public, the Liberty Korea Party and the Bareun Party launched an attack on Moon focusing on his "insecure view of security."
Yoo Seong-min, a presidential candidate for the Bareun Party, took issue with Moon's remarks about "understanding" that China is voicing its opposition and about "acknowledging" Kim Jong-un as a partner for dialogue.
"These remarks can be seen as nothing but a revocation of our military sovereignty and a pledge to do the bidding of China and Kim Jong-un. If such a candidate is elected president, our ties with the US will be shaken to the core, we'll have to kowtow to pressure from China and abandon our military sovereignty and we'll be taken hostage by North Korea's nuclear and missile blackmail and be dragged around as they please," Yoo said.
"Moon was speaking of a foreign policy that is focused on the national interest without being tilted to one side. Do they mean that the Republic of Korea, as a sovereign state, has to always say 'yes' to the requests of the US simply because the US is our ally?" said Lim Jong-seok, chief of staff for Moon's campaign, in rebuttal of this criticism.
"During the interview [with the New York Times], which was conducted in Korean, Moon did not directly say that South Korea has to be able to say 'no' to the Americans. We didn't ask for a correction of the article, however, because this was consistent with the intent of his remarks, which emphasized a foreign policy focused on the national interest," Moon's camp said.
Report: Trump Screamed at
McMaster Over South Korea Assurances
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 9, 2017) -- When President Trump demanded that South Korea pay for the $1 billion THAAD missile defense system being installed in South Korea, South Korean officials made it clear pretty quickly that wasn't going to happen. They had an agreement signed, after all, and payment wasn't part of it.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was quick to try to defuse the issue, insisting that the US would "adhere to our word" and pay for the THAAD, and that Trump's talk of paying wasn't official US policy. Apparently he didn't talk to Trump about that before the call.
Several sources are now reporting that Trump was "furious" over McMaster's comments to South Korea, got him on the phone and screamed at him, accusing him of "undermining him" on the plan to get South Korea to pay for THAAD.
This comes amid growing reports that McMaster has fallen out of favor within the administration, particularly with Trump, though the White House is insisting Trump still has every confidence in him. That's not what insiders say, however, with many reporting Trump "regrets" McMaster as a replacement for the sacked Gen. Flynn as National Security Adviser.
Flynn lasted only a few weeks, and while McMaster has lasted a little over two months now, replacing him would likely be a struggle for the administration, he could still find himself the second-shortest serving National Security Adviser in US history.
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