Monday, March 10, 2014
Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Kim / The Associated Press
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Park's predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, infuriated North Korea by linking aid and concessions to what turned out to be nonexistent progress on North Korea's past commitments to abandon its atomic weapons ambitions. In doing so, he reversed past liberal governments' policy of providing huge aid shipments with few strings attached.
Like Lee, Park is a member of South Korea's main conservative party, but she has promised to find a middle ground by re-engaging Pyongyang through aid shipments, reconciliation talks and the resumption of some large-scale economic initiatives as progress occurs on the nuclear issue. Park has also held out the possibility of a summit with Kim Jong Un.
Park's point man on North Korea, Unification Minister Yoo Kil Jae, said this week that regardless of the political situation, South Korea intends to eventually send humanitarian aid shipments for infants and other vulnerable people in North Korea.
Yoo said South Korea won't accept North Korea's nuclear development or any provocations and called for a dialogue between the countries to improve strained ties.
The Unification Ministry said Wednesday that South Korea has yet to discuss when to start making shipments, what aid items might be sent and how much it will send.
Park's North Korea policy is of keen interest not only on the Korean Peninsula but also among officials in Washington, Beijing and Tokyo. Analysts believe her course will set the initial tone for new North Korea policy in those capitals.