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PoliticsSouth Korea

South Korea's new president calls on North to denuclearize

May 10, 2022

At his inauguration ceremony, President Yoon Suk-yeol has proposed an "audacious" economic plan to aid North Korea, if it gives up its nuclear program.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul
South Korea's new president says he'll present 'an audacious plan' to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizesImage: Jeon Heon-kyun/AP/picture alliance

South Korea saw the inauguration of incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday in a celebratory ceremony in front of parliament in Seoul

The conservative leader won the presidential election in March with a very small margin, against the left-liberal candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, Lee Jae Myung. He will succeed  Moon Jae In, and serve a five-year term. 

The 61-year-old faces two major problems as the leader of South Korea: a belligerent North Korea testing new weapons and the inflation that is threatening to undermine economic recovery from the pandemic. 

What did Yoon say about North Korea?

Yoon made a statement showing willingness for dialogue with North Korea during the ceremony, even as Pyongyang has increased threats to speed up its nuclear and missile development.

"While North Korea’s nuclear weapon programs are a threat not only to our security and that of Northeast Asia, the door to dialogue will remain open so that we can peacefully resolve this threat," he said.

He also added he was prepared to present an "audacious plan" to strengthen North Korea's economy, if it agrees to denuclearization.

Who is Yoon Suk-yeol

A former attorney general, Yoon is a political novice. He shot to popularity for being the prosecutor in many high profile cases of corruption. He played a key role in convicting former President Park Geun-hye for abuse of power. 

He also indicted a top aide of outgoing President Moon Jae-in over fraud and bribery in 2019. 

"Yoon became the conservatives' 'icon' because he was "seen as the best person to beat the Democratic Party candidate, despite his lack of political leadership experience," Gi-Wook Shin, a sociology professor at Stanford, told AFP.

Yoon promised to fight corruption and create a level economic playing field, as the country struggles with inflation. 

tg/rt (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)