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Leftward lurch in Seoul will roil US ties

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Significance

It will almost certainly be Moon Jae-in of the centre-left main opposition Minjoo (Democrat) Party. This will mean a sharp break, after a decade of two right-wing leaders: Lee Myung-bak (2008-13) and the impeached and now imprisoned Park Geun-hye (2013-16), whose criminal trial on 18 counts of malfeasance began yesterday.

Impacts

  • Moon, armed with a mandate, may challenge US policy and force Trump to clarify his posturing.
  • Relations with China would ease if Moon reverses deployment of new US missile defence systems, though this looks unlikely.
  • If Moon restores inter-Korean trade, Pyongyang would become less vulnerable to Chinese economic sanctions.
  • Seoul's ties with Tokyo will continue to fester, over both North Korea policy and historical issues.
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