South Korean presidential candidate vows ‘proper’ relationship with North

Seoul, Nov 12 (EFE).- South Korea’s conservative presidential elections candidate Yoon Seok-youl said Friday he would build an “adequate” relationship with North Korea if elected in March, unlike what he called the current liberal government’s diplomatic failings.

“First, I will regain the proper inter-Korean relationship,” said Yoon, a new candidate for the People’s Power Party at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club.

He said cross-border ties “have degenerated into a relationship between subordinates and superiors” since, in his opinion, Seoul has bowed to Pyongyang’s designs during the government of liberal Moon Jae-in, who will leave office in May 2022.

Yoon, a former attorney general, said he would strengthen South Korea’s defensive missile capabilities and pledged to promote North Korea’s denuclearization and boost its humanitarian assistance.

He spoke of “immediately opening communications, youth and cultural exchanges between the two Koreas.”

In addition to strengthening the military alliance with the United States and suggesting that Seoul could join the multilateral intelligence alliance known as the Five Eyes, Yoon proposed opening a permanent office where officials from Washington and Pyongyang can meet regularly to negotiate.

He said he was reluctant to sign a peace declaration with Pyongyang like the one proposed by the Moon government as the first step to formalize a treaty ending the war technically still raging between the two neighbors since the 1950s.

“Unless full denuclearization can be achieved or inter-Korean relations have been restored, we cannot sign anything,” he said.

Yoon spoke of taking a turn in diplomacy with Japan, nonexistent, in his opinion, under the current government.

He said Moon’s administration has used the strained relationship with the archipelago “for domestic political purposes” and that he would reestablish a relationship “beneficial for both countries.”

He said he expects a “sincere apology” from Tokyo concerning the episodes that occurred during Japan’s colonial rule (1910-1945), whose interpretation has divided the two neighbors.

He also said he would open a “new era of mutual respect and cooperation” with China, South Korea’s main trading partner, and that he would promote trilateral cooperation between Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.

Yoon is, along with liberal Lee Jae-myung of Moon’s Democratic Party, the main candidate in March’s presidential elections. EFE


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