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Moon Jae-In

Shifts in ROK approaches to the DPRK under President Moon

By Dr Lauren Richardson

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has just completed his first year in office and what an eventful year it has been.

Over the past twelve months, the world witnessed a sharp escalation of tensions between the two Koreas which saw the peninsula reach the brink of war, and then just as rapidly, these tensions de-escalated, ushering in a mood of inter-Korean reconciliation.

What explains this stunning turnaround? Did President Moon’s North Korea policy differ drastically that of his predecessor, Park Geun-hye? In this paper I find that, surprisingly, Moon’s DPRK policy has been marked more by continuity than change from Park’s—particularly in the realm of defence. The main element of change has occurred on the diplomatic engagement front, which has facilitated the remarkable inter-Korean rapprochement.