Any new talks between South Korea and North Korea must be initiated by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the days of appeasing North Korea is over, South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk Yeol has said.
North Korea has launched 15 missile tests so far this year — more than in the past two years combined — and last month Kim vowed to “strengthen and develop” its nuclear forces at the “highest possible” speed.
But Yoon says South Korea and its allies stand ready for any acts of North Korean provocation.
Speaking exclusively to CNN on Monday, May 23 in his first media interview since taking office two weeks ago, Yoon said:
“I think the ball is in Chairman Kim’s court — it is his choice to start a dialogue with us.”
“Just to escape temporarily North Korean provocation or conflict is not something that we should do,” he said, pointing at the previous liberal administration’s conciliatory strategy. “This kind of approach over the past five years, has proven to be a failure.”
Unlike his predecessor Moon Jae-in, who had promoted dialogue and peaceful reconciliation, Yoon has consistently emphasized his tougher stance on North Korea and desire to strengthen South Korea’s military.
He did emphasize though that he didn’t want North Korea to “collapse.”
“What I want is shared and common prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. But I do not believe that enhancing [North Korea’s] nuclear capability is helpful and conducive to maintaining international peace.” He said