SEOUL (Reuters) – Liberal politician Moon Jae-in won South Korea’s presidential election on Tuesday, an exit poll showed, an expected victory that would end nearly a decade of conservative rule and bring a more conciliatory approach toward North Korea.
North Korea threatened on Monday to carryout weekly missile tests despite warnings from the Trump administration that ongoing tests could provoke U.S. military action.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a terse, 23 word statement on Tuesday responding to North Korea firing another ballistic missile into the sea off the Korean Peninsula.
The Trump administration is dealing with a lot. Just consider the agenda this week: a nuclear war for its Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill, dueling investigations and political fights over contacts with Russia and the previous administration’s handling of intelligence, a renewed push on health care, a visit of the President of Egypt and the King of Jordan to discuss peace in the Middle East, and of course the two-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago.
The speed of now-former South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s spectacular fall from power took many foreign observers by surprise. After all, the initial reports last autumn that were to snowball into a generational political crisis seemed pretty bland. The daughter of the president’s family friend and “spiritual adviser” Choi Soon-sil had apparently been accepted into a prestigious women’s university as a result of political pressure. An “equestrian scholarship” had been invented as a pretext for getting her in despite comparatively weak grades. Students at the school—not fans of the conservative president, unsurprisingly—were protesting.
China on Tuesday reacted harshly to the U.S. military’s deployment of an advanced missile defense system to South Korea—one day after North Korea fired a salvo of 600-mile range missiles toward Japan.
South Korea’s top spy chief said Wednesday that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un personally ordered the assassination of his half-brother, who died Monday night after being attacked at a Malaysian airport.
During his first visit to Asia as US defense secretary, retired Marine Corps. Gen. James Mattis last week sought to reassure the United States’ two key allies in Northeast Asia that the new Trump administration plans to work closely with both Japan and South Korea.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reassured South Korea on Thursday that the United States would stand by its longtime Pacific ally, pledging to talk to Seoul officials about the deployment of a missile defense system intended to combat North Korean aggression.
South Korean and U.S. Marines are conducting military exercises on ski slopes in sub-freezing temperatures, including shirtless hand-to-hand combat in the snow, prompting warnings of retaliation from North Korea over “madcap mid-winter” drills.