Bloomberg News

S. Korea Presidential Nominee Park Seeks to Meet North’s Kim

November 05, 2012

South Korea ruling party presidential nominee Park Geun Hye said she wants to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to improve relations if she wins next month’s election.

“I am willing to meet the leader of North Korea for the advancement of inter-Korean relations,” Park said today at a televised press briefing in Seoul to announce her foreign affairs and national security policy pledges.

Park, whose mother was killed in 1974 during a North Korean assassination attempt on her father when he led South Korea, pledged to reverse outgoing President Lee Myung Bak’s hard-line stance against Kim’s regime. North Korea two days ago blasted the ruling New Frontier Party and said ties would worsen if she is elected.

The 60-year-old Park is seeking to become the first female leader of Asia’s fourth-largest economy in the Dec. 19 vote. She is outpolling two challengers in her bid to overcome Lee’s plummeting approval ratings and revive a party hurt by scandals by promising to address a widening income gap and expand welfare spending.

Today, Park called for installing offices in Seoul and North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang to improve communication and said she would form a crisis management bureau to centralize control over national security, diplomacy and unification issues. She said she would help North Korea join global financial and trade organizations, and pledged assistance in promoting foreign investment into the totalitarian state.

‘Source of Disasters’

North Korea’s Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification blasted the NFP as “a source of disasters of the nation and the root cause of all misfortunes,” in a Nov. 3 statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. Relations will be “worse then what they were during the Lee regime” if Park is elected, according to the statement.

Park served as acting first lady after her mother was killed in a North Korean assassination attempt on her father Park Chung Hee. The elder Park was South Korea’s longest-serving military ruler until he was killed by his deputy and intelligence chief in 1979, ending an 18-year dictatorship.

Park’s approval rating stood at 42.8 percent, ahead of independent candidate Ahn Cheol Soo’s 26.8 percent and main opposition party candidate Moon Jae In’s 23.6 percent, according to a weekly poll by Seoul-based Realmeter. The Oct. 29-Nov. 4 survey of 5,250 respondents had a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.

Moon and Ahn will meet tomorrow to discuss joining forces to secure an opposition victory next month, Ahn’s spokeswoman Chung Yeon Soon said in a text message. Ahn suggested a meeting while giving a lecture today at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, a city about 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Seoul, Chung said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at syoon32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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