Analyst: South’s elections hint at shifting views on North Korea

SEOUL, April 15 (UPI) — South Korea’s election results combined with continued provocations from Pyongyang could mean a different North Korea policy, a South Korean analyst said.

Paik Hak-soon, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said the general elections have obscured the threat of war on the Korean peninsula.

“Real security should mitigate the threat of war through talks and negotiation, so that peace prevails,” Paik told South Korean newspaper Herald Business.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s ruling conservatives lost the parliamentary majority during elections Wednesday – raising the possibility the South’s North Korea policy could shift with the new tide in domestic politics.

Park spent much of 2016 taking a hardline approach toward Pyongyang, in response to the North’s fourth nuclear test and other provocations. The measures culminated in the expedited shutdown of operations at Kaesong, the jointly operated factory park in North Korea.

Park’s policies have drawn strong reactions from Pyongyang, but the approach could change with the ascendancy of the opposition Minjoo Party in the National Assembly.

The Minjoo Party is the successor to the National Democratic Party of the late Kim Dae-jung, whose “Sunshine Policy” of rapprochement culminated in a historical summit in Pyongyang between the leaders of the two Koreas in 2000.

The passage of United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution 2270 has also been met with rising North Korean belligerence – including the frequent firing of projectiles and state media language condemning Seoul and Washington.

The sanctions, however, have shown signs of taking effect.

On Friday Mexico confiscated the 6,700-ton Mu Du Bong, a North Korean commercial ship affiliated with a blacklisted Pyongyang enterprise, Yonhap reported.

The decision comes after Park met with the Mexican president in a state visit early April.

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