SEOUL, South Korea ( Associated Press) — South Korea’s outgoing president on Monday defended his policy of rapprochement with North Korea, saying in his farewell address that he hopes efforts to restore peace and denuclearize the peninsula will continue. korean
Moon Jae-in leaves office on Tuesday after a five-year term. He will hand over the presidential command to conservative Yoon Suk Yeol, who has accused him of being “servile” to North Korea and vowed to take a tougher stance on North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Peace is the condition for our survival and prosperity. I sincerely hope that efforts will continue to resume dialogue between South and North Korea and establish denuclearization and peace,” Moon said in the nationally televised address.
When Moon took office in 2017, he found little room to maneuver diplomatically due to a series of nuclear and missile tests by North Korea. However, he ultimately seized the opportunity to reconcile with North Korea when his leader, Kim Jong Un, abruptly approached Seoul and Washington in early 2018 to discuss the future of his nuclear arsenal.
But after US-North Korea diplomacy collapsed in 2019, Moon faced withering criticism that his policy of rapprochement only helped Pyongyang buy time and hone its weapons program in the face of US-led sanctions and the pressure campaign against North Korea.
In the end, Pyongyang urged Moon not to interfere in his dealings with the United States and unleashed crude insults on him.
In his last speech as president, Moon said his government had helped alleviate the danger of war on the Korean peninsula and raised hopes for peace through diplomacy.
Associated Press reporter Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report