President Moon Jae-in's Policy Towards DPRK

On May 9, the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) published a brief article regarding newly elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in policy towards DPRK. 

Originally published in the May 16 KBLA Weekly Intelligence Report.


According to PIIE, "On the surface, Moon’s election looks like a “reset” moment in inter-Korean relations as he has promised to bring back large engagement-oriented policies, a kind of Sunshine Policy 3.0—following the first two different iterations of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations—but new constraints on his options may make it much more difficult to carry out his big plans."

President Moon Jae-in is set to reset South and North Korean relations by increasing engagement between two Koreas. Moon, who previously worked in former President Roh Moo-hyun's administration is supporter of such cooperation policies as:

- Reopening Mount Kumgang tourism that was shut down in 2009.

- Reopening Kaesong Industrial Complex that was shut down in 2016 and expand it eight times.

- Restarting meetings of separated families, which have happened rarely during previous administrations.

- "...enactment of inter-Korean cooperation agreements into law by both South Korea’s National Assembly and the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly, which he argues will result in the “increase of predictability and permanence of inter-Korean policies.”

President Moon stated that economic integration of North and South Korea could increase South Korean GDP growth by 1% and provide access to several million new consumers.

Despite engagement orientated North Korean policies, Moon also stressed importance of South Korean and US alliance in order to deter North Korea. Moon's position over THAAD deployment renegotiation has become more restrained over the past several months, but he still opposed a perceived rush to install THAAD before the inauguration of the new president and development of Korea's own missile defense system (KAMD).

Despite Moon's cooperative policy towards North Korea, his options are more limited than his predecessors' during Sunshine 1 and 2 attempts. North Korea is under a much stricter regime of sanctions than it was during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, therefore economic cooperation policies could violate UN Security Council resolutions.

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