News / Asia

    Uncertainty, Opportunity Loom for Inter-Korean Relations

    An anti-communist person holds a national flag during a rally to celebrate the victory of  South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye of Saenuri Party in front of the party headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, December 20, 2012.
    An anti-communist person holds a national flag during a rally to celebrate the victory of South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye of Saenuri Party in front of the party headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, December 20, 2012.
    In her initial appearance during her first day as president-elect, Park Geun-hye of the Saenuri (New Frontier) Party went to South Korea's national cemetery to pay tribute to three deceased presidents, including her father.

    She burned incense at her parents' tomb. The moment marked a poignant transition for the 60-year-old democratically-elected president, finally stepping out of the shadow cast by her dictator father's legacy.

    Park Chung-hee's long grip on power, that had begun with a military coup in 1961, ended in 1979 when he was murdered by his intelligence chief.

    The president-elect also lost her mother in 1974 to an assassin's bullet. It was fired by a North Korean-backed agent.

    And, North Korea was very much on Park's mind during her first day as president-elect.

    In a speech, she announced national security will get top priority in her administration.

    "The launch of North Korea's long-range missile symbolically showed how grave is the security situation South Korea confronts," said Park.

    The North, on December 12, fired a multi-stage rocket that placed an object into space.

    Pyongyang claims it successfully deployed a peaceful earth observation satellite. Scientists and amateur astronomers say they have detected no signals indicating the object is functioning.

    • South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye, center, poses with an official certificate stating her election victory, Seoul, December 20, 2012.
    • South Korea's president-elect Park Geun-hye bows in front of the grave of her father Park Chung-hee, the country's former dictator, at the National Cemetery in Seoul, December 20, 2012.
    • Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party waves to her supporters near the party's head office in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • Supporters of Park Geun-hye cheer near her Saenuri Party's head office in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • South Korean opposition Democratic United Party's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, second from left, shakes hands with supporters after he cast his ballot in the presidential election in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • Members of opposition Democratic United Party watch TV news reporting exit polls on their presidential candidate Moon Jae-in in South Korea's presidential elections, Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • A South Korean woman with her son, tries to come out from a booth at a polling station in Seoul, December 19, 2012.
    • South Korean National Election Commission officials sort out ballots cast in the presidential election as they begin the counting process in Seoul, December 19, 2012.


    In her nationally televised speech Thursday, the president-elect also vowed to “open a new era on the Korean peninsula, based on strong security and trust-based diplomacy.”

    During the campaign she differed with her main opponent, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party, who had pledged to hold an unconditional summit with the North's young leader, Kim Jong Un.

    Park had said Pyongyang would first have to apologize for recent military provocations.

    The South blames the North for a 2010 torpedo attack on one of its coastal naval vessels that killed 46 personnel. Later that same year, North Korea shelled a frontier island where the South has a military base. That attack killed four people, including two civilians.

    Under outgoing president Lee Myung-bak, desperately-needed aid for the impoverished and isolated North was severely curtailed compared to what was provided by the two previous South Korean administrations, which hoped for warming ties under a “Sunshine Policy” of engagement.

    The new South Korean president will emphasize the existing military alliance between her country and the United States, according to Professor Yang Moo-jin at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

    The Kim Jong Un government in Pyongyang, Yang explains, is “committed to its survival through development of long-range rockets and nuclear weapons.”

    Thus, according to Yang, it will be difficult for the two Koreas to have an effective discussion.

    The two countries technically remain at war. Three years of devastating civil conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, but Seoul and Pyongyang have never agreed to a peace treaty.

    Since 1949, political control of the North (officially the Democratic People's Republic) has been in the hands of one family. Kim Jong Un is the third generation leader and grandson of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung.

    The younger Kim came to power following the death, one year ago, of his father, Kim Jong Il.

    So far, North Korea has not commented on Park's election and there has been no mention of the outcome in its media.

    Last month, the North Korean state-run news agency KCNA warned that Park's stated positions on diplomacy, security and unification policy during the campaign “would bring only confrontation and war.”

    On South Korea's Election Day, the news agency made an oblique reference to her Saenuri Party as “confrontation maniacs” who are “going mad with false propaganda” against the Pyongyang leadership.

    Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul bureau contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Exenon from: Australia
    December 20, 2012 6:44 PM
    It would be hoped that a strong message be sent north to the dysfunctional Men Ta Li Ills and all the evil trolls enslaving that failed state that there will be no more appeasement of their murdering treachery. One superficial rocket is sent up and the west trembles. How embarrassing to hear the worlds greatest power attack them with strong words and angry gestures.
    Make it clear to them how puny, weak and tottering their miserable starving country really is.

    by: Anonymous
    December 20, 2012 10:49 AM
    a reunified Korea is expected

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora