Commentary: S.Korea needs comeback to more constructive Pyongyang policy

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-09 09:39:40|Editor: ying
Video PlayerClose

by Xinhua writer Zhu Dongyang

BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) -- South Korea is going to elect a new president after Tuesday's election. Amid increasing tension on the Korean Peninsula and decreasing trust from its neighbors, Seoul is more than ready for a positive leadership that underlines a comeback to the previous pro-peace policy towards Pyongyang.

Whoever the new Blue House host will be, he or she should learn from the misjudgements of former President Park Geun-hye, whose scandal-ridden term ended in disgrace over her corruption charges, and reflect on the controversial decision to let in the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which has placed national security in jeopardy and soured relations with major neighbors.

It is a relief to see the promise of Moon Jae-in, the front-runner from the main opposition Democratic Party, to resume the "Sunshine Policy" of engagement with Pyongyang. The policy, pursued by his mentor and ex-President Roh Moo-hyun earlier this century, had once enabled the North-South rapprochement and secured regional peace and prosperity then.

Besides improving the national economy, the top priority of the new South Korean president, therefore, is to cool down the current tensions on the peninsula with concrete measures, and draft up a way out of the country's diplomatic deadlock in Northeast Asia.

Over the last couple of years, it has been a Herculean challenge for some politicians in Seoul to transcend myopia and immobilism, and put national security in a larger picture.

Instead of making South Korea a positive factor when it comes to promoting regional stability, the country's conservative forces, which have gained the upper hand in the politic arena in recent years, have acted otherwise.

Their preference to conduct annual military drills with Washington, which have carried an incremental note of intimidation against its northern neighbor, reinforced Pyongyang's sense of insecurity, prompting more rhetoric and countermeasures from it.

As for the THAAD missile defense system, however valid Seoul's reason to deploy it may sound, the system definitely poses a direct threat to China's strategic interests and security net.

South Korea has been paying the price -- eroded mutual trust and a hampered prospect for bilateral economic cooperation -- for stabbing Beijing in the back when the latter is sparing no efforts to make dialogues possible.

Given all these challenges, the country deserves a president with strong leadership skills who will make the Peninsula more, instead of less, secure and stable.

Seoul's eagerness to defend its security has its reasons, but patience and vision count more when there is no quick or easy fix to the crisis.

It would be advisable that the next South Korean leader respond positively to China's proposal to resume dialogues -- Pyongyang suspends its nuclear program in exchange for the U.S.-South Korean halt of military exercises -- something the previous South Korean leaders have failed to do in the past 10 years.

Moreover, to demonstrate its readiness to ease tensions, Seoul should also call off deploying the THAAD system, which has proved useless in thwarting Pyongyang's nuclear and missile activities.

Examples from history show that hostility only results in retaliation. Now the onus is on the next South Korean president to show real leadership by thinking outside the box.