South Korea: Moon vows to address North Korea, broader tensions 'urgently'

Park is the father of recently ousted conservative President Park Geun-hye.

"But it's wrong to assume that's inevitable", said Russel, now a senior fellow at the Asia Society.

The two countries are also at odds over a "comfort woman" statue that was built outside the Japanese consulate in the southern South Korean city of Busan after the agreement was signed. "But it requires careful alliance coordination".

President Moon Jae-in has picked a progressive activist and professor as his top secretary for civil affairs, a source said a mold-breaking decision for the post that has always been occupied by former prosecutors.

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Washington was left in a delicate position after Park's ouster, with several high-ranking administration officials - including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence - visiting Seoul to shore up the alliance amid tensions with North Korea.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-In waves to his supporters as he arrives near the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

Now, the 64-year-old onetime human rights lawyer will have to find a way to get to "yes" with President Trump while dealing with an increasingly assertive North Korea across the border, rising tensions in the region and a sputtering economy and rising corruption at home that have called into question the South Korean way of doing business. Moon advocates a less confrontational policy.

The constitutional court upheld the impeachment in March, making Park the first democratically-elected leader in South Korea to be removed from office and triggering a snap election to choose her successor.

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In one of his first acts as president, Moon spoke by telephone with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lee Sun-jin. Its strategy, although not fully spelled out, involves ramping up pressure on Pyongyang and tightening sanctions with the help of China, the North Korean regime's major ally and economic lifeline.

The North's increasing threat may make the USA less tolerant of policy differences with Seoul than in the past, he said. He wants to reopen a joint industrial park that was closed previous year to deprive the North of revenue. Moon accepted Trump's invitation to visit at an "early date". His stance could create friction with officials in Washington.

"In terms of North Korean nuclear weapons, instead of solving it through regulation and blockade", Jeon noted, "he wants to solve it only by communication and soft policies".

After celebrating his victory with thousands of supporters, the new president also said he will negotiate with China - Seoul's main trading partner - over a contentious U.S. missile-defence system deployed in the South.

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While THAAD is meant to provide security against the growing North Korean missile threat to American troops stationed in South Korea, and the people there, Moon has expressed his discontent with the accelerated installation of the missile shield.

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