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China Daily Website

ROK election holds a lot of keys

Updated: 2012-12-04 21:09
By Wang Sheng ( chinadaily.com.cn)

In his second term in office, US President Barack Obama is likely to make greater efforts to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Rather than imposing more "tough sanctions" on Pyongyang, Obama might "seek to improve relations" with it.

DPRK leader Kim Jong-un's focus is mainly on stabilizing the domestic political situation and improving people's livelihood. But he is equally eager to improve relations with the US and the ROK to create a stable environment to build economic development zones, which are important for boosting the domestic economy and improving people's living standards.

Pyongyangwants to see a US led by the Democratic Party and a ROK led by the Democratic United Party, for the combination could restart the ROK-led inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges. It could also prompt the Obama administration to hold dialogue with the DPRK, leading to improvement in Pyongyang-Washington ties.

Exchanges and cooperation are the main trends of today's world. They are also the key to resolving the Korean Peninsula issue. Pyongyang and Seoul should realize that taking tough positions can only harm inter-Korean relations. No matter who is elected, efforts should be made to improve DPRK-ROK ties, for that is the desire of the people on both sides. This is a crucial issue the next ROK government should realize.

Park has declared that the DPRK should apologize for two deadly "provocations" in 2010 and promise to prevent similar incidents. Though Moon has a different approach, both candidates want to resume the Pyongyang-Seoul dialogue, a policy that is more flexible than the current government's hard-line stance.

Park has also vowed to establish ROK-DPRK "Exchange and Cooperation Offices" in Seoul and Pyongyang both to facilitate talks on inter-Korean economic cooperation. She has pledged to transform a joint industrial park in the DPRK border town of Kaesong into a global industrial complex, jointly develop underground resources, provide help for the DPRK's infrastructure construction and help Pyongyang in its bid to join major international financial institutions to attract investment.

Moon has said he will carry on the policies of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations on the DPRK, but with more realistic ideas that take into consideration the current situation, unconditionally cancel the 5.24 sanctions against Pyongyang and resume the ROK-DPRK dialogue. These policy initiatives, if implemented, will be a shot in the arm for inter-Korean relations.

ROK people, politicians and media are concerned about the intensifying tensions on the Peninsula. Perhaps most people in the ROK are tired of Lee Myung-bak's tough policy toward the DPRK and hope the new government would adopt a somewhat "sunshine" policy.

People on both sides look forward to better inter-Korean ties under a new ROK president, which would eventually lead to the reunification of the two Koreas. Pyongyang, too, hopes the new ROK government steers bilateral relations out of the low ebb and toward the path of hope and reconciliation. Hopefully, the ROK election will become a new starting point for improved inter-Korean relations.

The author is a professor in international studies in Jilin University.

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