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Next South Korea President to Engage More With North, Beck Says

Asia Foundation Korea Representative Peter Beck comments on South Korea’s presidential election in an interview with Bloomberg Television today.

On North Korea policies:

“It is interesting that the rocket launch has happened a week ago but it really hasn’t had any impact on the election. Voters are really focused on domestic issues. There is broad consensus on Korea on the need to engage with North Korea, even when they engage with bad behaviors, like rocket launches.”

“Even after the attacks, North Korea launched two attacks on South Korea in 2010, and still there is a strong majority supporting more engagement with North Korea. So both presidential candidates have pledged to reach out to North Korea.”

“Moon Jae In would be a bit more aggressive than Park Geun Hye, he has recognized that North-South relations are very poor right now and that he would try to improve it.”

On why Rocket is not having much impact on the election:

“South Korea has been living with the attacks from North Korea for more than sixty years.”

“Having a long range missile capability doesn’t really change the threat equation on the Korean peninsula.”

On voter turnout:

“We have seen so far that the turnout is very high. I think its for two reasons. One the election is much closer than it was five years ago, we knew even before the polls closed. The weather is good, it’s cold, but it is good so its not going to stop people.”

“There is a real generational divide. Those under 40 overwhelmingly support opposition candidate Moon Jae In and those over 50 overwhelmingly supporting Park Geun Hye. Those who are in the 40s, like me, the first generation that really experienced democracy, they are really going to be the ones determining this election.”

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