A North Korean diplomat said Monday the election victory by left-leaning South Korean President Moon Jae-In reflected the people’s “longing” for change.
The comments by ambassador to Beijing Ji Jae-Ryong were the first official response by the North to Moon’s triumph last week, except for a four-paragraph dispatch by the official Korean Central News Agency two days after the vote.
Moon — who favors engagement with Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions — won overwhelmingly after his conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye was ousted over a massive corruption scandal.
“The South Korean people are longing for new politics, new society and new life and the election was a reflection of this popular sentiment,” Ji told reporters in Beijing.
Park, who advocated a hard line with the North, was arrested in March and is in jail awaiting trial on multiple charges.
“Anyone who pursues selfish interests by following a foreign power and keeping their distance from their compatriots cannot avoid the stern judgment of the people,” Ji said.
It was important for Seoul’s leadership to “faithfully abide” by previous North-South agreements, he added,
Moon was part of the South’s last liberal government nearly a decade ago, which pursued a “Sunshine policy” of reconciliation and dialogue with the North.
He is widely expected to shift away from Park’s approach, and declared at his swearing-in that he would go to Pyongyang “in the right circumstances”.
But its latest missile launch came only four days into Moon’s tenure and he slammed it as a “reckless provocation”, saying dialogue would be possible “only if Pyongyang changes its behavior”.