South Korea’s new president will teach ‘fat boy’ Kim Jong Un manners
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Seoul (AFP) – Threatening with a preemptive strike, responding quickly to missile tests and telling ‘fat boy’ leader Kim Jong Un to behave: South Korea’s next president looks set to crack down on the nuclear-armed North , according to analysts.
Over the past five years, Seoul has pursued a policy of engagement with Pyongyang, brokering high-level summits between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump while scaling back joint US military exercises the North considers as provocateurs.
For President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol – who won a close election by a very slim margin on Thursday – this “enslaved” approach has been a clear failure.
The outgoing administration of President Moon Jae-in “volunteered to play the role of intermediary between the United States and North Korea, but was eventually dumped by the two,” Yoon said in a message. pre-election on Facebook.
Since the start of the year, Pyongyang has conducted a record nine weapons tests, including banned hypersonic and medium-range ballistic missiles.
After the North tested what it claimed was a reconnaissance satellite component on Saturday – Seoul said it was a disguised ballistic missile – Yoon, 61, said young Kim must be taken in hand.
“If you give me a chance, I’ll teach him some manners,” he said.
During the election campaign, he called Kim a “rude boy” and promised that once in power he would make the North Korean leader “get out of it”.
The former prosecutor threatened a preemptive strike on the North “if necessary” – which analysts consider extremely unrealistic and dangerous.
Even so, Yoon vowed on Thursday to “sternly deal with the illegal and irrational acts of the North”, in his first comments as president-elect.
“Under Yoon, we will likely see efforts to reset inter-Korean relations,” Soo Kim of the RAND Corporation told AFP.
Instead of dialogue and engagement, she said, Yoon will take a harder line, having already called for more joint exercises with the United States.
“It’s a departure from the Moon administration’s prioritization of inter-Korean engagement, to say the least,” she added.
“One-sided love” displayed under Moon will come to an end, said Professor Park Won-gon of Ewha Womans University.
“Yoon will definitely want to put the issue of denuclearization on the agenda,” Park said, unlike the more piecemeal diplomacy pursued by his liberal predecessor.
“It’s highly likely that North Korea will say no.”
Yoon even suggested buying an additional THAAD missile system from the United States to counter the North, despite the risks it could provoke further economic retaliation from China, Seoul’s biggest trading partner.
“Seoul also needs to revamp its complex relationship with Beijing,” Yoon said in a policy statement to Foreign Affairs last month.
“Nothing to Gain”
President Moon has met leader Kim Jong Un four times and brokered high-level talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
But negotiations collapsed in 2019 and diplomacy has stalled as Pyongyang stepped up weapons testing and threatened to drop a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear weapons testing.
Yoon has not ruled out the possibility of dialogue with Pyongyang, but analysts say his hawkish stance puts him on a completely different footing and drastically reduces the prospect of substantial engagement.
Pyongyang will judge that it has “nothing to gain” by talking to a radical South Korean government, Hong Min, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, told AFP.
Keeping tensions on the peninsula high will work in Pyongyang’s favor, Hong added, allowing it to maintain the momentum of Kim’s declared military modernization program.
“North Korea will accelerate the pace of its nuclear and missile development and use the hawkish South Korean government to justify its actions.”
© 2022 AFP