Sworn in earlier today, South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has promised to “urgently” tackle his nation’s serious foreign policy problems, with an eye on trying to defuse soaring tensions with neighboring North Korea, while also trying to come to some sort of agreement with the US and China over the THAAD missile defense system.
Moon is an advocate of diplomacy, who has promised a return to the Sunshine Policy which aimed to improve relations with North Korea. He has also said he favors peaceful reunificiation of the Korean Peninusla, and thinks South Korea should feel free to “say no” to the US
That could be an early test for him with respect to the THAAD, as Moon has made clear he believes the US deliberately forced the THAAD deal through during the lame duck government to avoid having to negotiate on the system properly. The THAAD is increasingly opposed among many South Koreans, particularly based on Trump’s calls for them to pay for it.
Moon has said he wants South Korea to be a “responsible” player in the region, which also iinvolves improving ties with China. This could most easily be done with their common ground over THAAD, as China has complained that they don’t like the idea of US missile defense being deployed just off their coast.
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