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Next pres. must get tough on N.Korea

Posted December. 14, 2012 05:19,   


The winner of South Korea’s presidential election next week will have to face North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is blatantly seeking nuclear and missile armament and resorting to military brinkmanship. Either the ruling Saenuri Party candidate Park Geun-hye or her main opposition rival Moon Jae-in must commit to handling such a grave responsibility before savoring the taste of election victory.

North Korea’s latest rocket launch is a test for the two main candidates. On Wednesday, both runners criticized in one voice Pyongyang’s launch, with Park calling it “a provocation against the world as well as against South Korea” and Moon saying it was "a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.” Yet the two went no further in failing to present what measures they would take against the provocation and violation of the resolutions. It is irresponsible for the two candidates to do nothing but make a comment at a time when Seoul is facing an enormous security crisis in the wake of Pyongyang’s missile launch.

Both contenders seem to fantasize that inter-Korean relations will thaw if one of them takes power. Park has presented rosy pledges such as inter-Korean exchange and cooperation offices and the implementation of the “Vision Korea Project,” which involves the construction of an economic community on the Korean Peninsula. Moon said he will pursue an inter-Korean summit in his first year in office and create a “Special Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the West (Yellow) Sea,” as well as form an inter-Korean economic union. He also pledged to resume the suspended tours to Mount Kumgang in the North. How can both candidates implement all of these pledges if they cannot present ideas to defuse the latest missile crisis?

If North Korean leader Kim could readily take the hand offered by South Korea’s next president, he would not have committed the missile provocation just before the South’s presidential election. Both Park and Moon should present their proposals about protecting the South Korean people from the North’s nuclear and missile threats. A candidate who dares not send a warning to Kim does not deserve the South Korean people’s vote. The recent leadership changes in the two Koreas, the U.S., China and Japan are expected to trigger a race to establish a new order in the region.

New Chinese President Xi Jinping has begun mulling on dealing with North Korea. U.S. President Barack Obama, who is about to begin his second term, will likely not stand by and watch Pyongyang develop nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. West Coast. Japan will likely have a nationalistic right-wing government after its general elections Sunday. Amid the leadership changes in the U.S., China and Japan, South Korea`s next leader should demonstrate his or her capabilities and commitment to taking the lead in resolving North Korea`s missile and nuclear ambitions to ensure peace and stability on the peninsula without being swayed by other powers.