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North Korea policies of Moon Jae-in administration Updated: 2017-05-18 14:29:28 KST

"I will do everything I can to establish peace on the Korean peninsula. If needed I will fly to Washington immediately. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo, and even to Pyongyang under the right conditions."

South Korea's newly elected President Moon Jae-in showing his strong determination to tackle the major issues on the Korean peninsula.

A combination of both pressure and engagement is the approach he seeks to take with Pyongyang.
President Moon said the country will maintain its current sanctions on North Korea, and respond sternly against any provocations by maintaining a strong South Korea-U.S. alliance, and by beefing up the South's own military capabilities, including the development of the Korea Air and Missile Defense System.

But along with keeping a strong defense against North Korea, President Moon also looks to engage with Pyongyang.

"We believe, depending on the situation, we must either pressure the North or talk with them. That is what all the current sanctions and pressure is ultimately striving for, to isolate North Korea but to engage in talks and negotiations."

Moon's inter-Korean policies also include re-establishing a non-political relationship between the two Koreas through economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.

"Moon's vision for the two Koreas is to create greater economic dependence on each other, and create a win-win situation, ultimately merging the two economies. I see that President Moon's core policy on the Korean peninsula is to bring peace and unification through an economic approach."

"One of them is the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. It was shut down over a year ago due to North Korea's continued provocations. But during his campaign, President Moon pledged to reopen it and even make it 20 times bigger."

Expanding the complex would increase the number of South Korean firms, from the current 125 to some 25-hundred, and lead to more workers from the North being employed there.

Some foreign media outlets dubbed President Moon's approach the "Moonshine policy", combining his surname with former President Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine Policy", which was an attempt to improve relations with the North by encouraging interaction and economic assistance.

However, experts say these pro-engagement policies are not likely to happen anytime soon, especially with the North's latest missile test on Sunday.

"He [Moon] may seek opportunities to change the mood, but it's very unlikely for him to change under the current mood, unless there's a real genuine gesture coming from North Korea on nuclear front. But as we know, it's very unlikely for North Korea to say or do anything meaningful in nuclear front, rather they will keep modernizing and advancing nuclear capabilities."

And as the name suggests, experts say President Moon's "Moonshine Policy" will not be as warm, giving or understanding as his predecessor's "Sunshine Policy".

"Moon's policies may seem very similar to the Sunshine policy. But Pyongyang's nuclear threats have advanced greatly since then, which is why the previous policy cannot be implemented now. Rather, it should be amended to suit the current situation, where a more stern and robust approach is needed."

This was evident in the pro-engagement President Moon Jae-in's response to the North's latest missile test, where he ordered an urgent meeting of top security officials condemning the regime's move.

And based on what President Moon has shown in his first week in office, experts say he is likely to continue being firm, unless the regime shows a change in regard to its nuclear development program.

"In terms of percentage, it's 40% of pressure, 60% of engagement, that's the principal. But this is the time for pressure. He cannot deny the fact. He has to follow the current policy line, so long as North Korea continues to be assertive and aggressive towards outside world."
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.

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