New South Korean President Moon Jae-In on Wednesday declared his willingness to visit the nuclear-armed North, moments after taking his oath of office.
Tensions are high over the North’s weapons ambitions and Moon — who backs engagement with Pyongyang — said he would work for peace.
“If needed I will fly to Washington immediately,” he said. “I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang in the right circumstances.”
Moon, of the Democratic Party, took 41.1 percent of the votes, far ahead of Conservative Hong Joon-Pyo, his closest rival on 24.03 percent.
He also said he would have “serious negotiations” with the US and China over the controversial deployment of the US anti-missile system THAAD.
The deployment of the powerful system has infuriated Beijing, which sees it as a threat to its own military capability.
China — the South’s biggest trading partner — has taken a series of moves against South Korean firms seen as economic retaliation, which strained ties.
“I will do everything I can to build peace on the Korean peninsula,” Moon said, vowing to “further strengthen” the alliance with key ally Washington.
US President Donald Trump recently suggested Seoul should pay for the $1 billion deployment of the anti-missile system, sparking anger in Seoul.
The move raised questions over the ties between Seoul and its security guarantor, Washington, which has 28,500 troops stationed in the South.