April 17, 2020 11:46
The ruling Minjoo Party's landslide victory in the general election on Wednesday is expected to give fresh momentum to President Moon Jae-in's quixotic attempts to engage North Korea.
In a meeting on Thursday, Cheong Wa Dae pledged to make "consistent" efforts for progress in "the Korean peace process."
In his New Year's press conference early this year, Moon proposed allowing individual South Koreans travelers to visit the North, seek cross-border cooperation in public health, and push for transforming the demilitarized zone into a "peace zone."
His overtures have so far been met with deafening silence or abuse from the North, which appears to blame him for the collapse of last year's summit with the U.S. in Hanoi.
In the hustings, the Minjoo Party promised to press ahead with cross-border economic cooperation. "There is a high chance that the North will respond to Moon's tourism proposals since it has had economic difficulties since trade with China was suspended and leader Kim Jong-un has focused on the tourism industry," a ruling-party official claimed.
The ruling party also wants to push for the resumption of package tours to Mt. Kumgang and the reopening of the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex even though international sanctions against the North make that completely impossible.
Meanwhile, Moon thanked voters in a statement on Thursday for "supporting the government in its desperate efforts to overcome the national crisis" caused by the coronavirus epidemic. "I feel a heavy responsibility before I rejoice over the choice of Korean citizens," he said. "I promise not to become arrogant but listen to people's voices more humbly."
International press coverage attributed the ruling party's victory to the government's successful battle against coronavirus.
The New York Times said Moon "leveraged his surging popularity over his country's largely successful battle against the coronavirus to increase his political sway."
The BBC said Moon and his party "won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections, with voters backing the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic."
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