South Korea Election ‘Impossible’ to Call, CSIS Adviser Cha Says

Victor Cha, former director for Asian Affairs at the White House on the National Security Council and current senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., comments on South Korea’s presidential election in an interview with Bloomberg Television today.

On the election outlook:

“Its very difficult to tell. This thing going into the election was statistically a tie. And this has really been unprecedented in Korean history, we never had one this close. So its really impossible to say who is going to win.”

On Park Geun Hye winning the race:

“It would be very significant in a male-dominated society. If Park Geun Hye becomes the chief executive that would be an historic moment.”

“Korea has been a trail-blazer in the region, whether you’re talking about climate change, G-20, or Nuclear Security Summit. It has been sort of up in the lead and this would be another example of that.”

Park’s main “issue is going to be, as it is elsewhere around the world, domestic economy and getting it to grow, and creating jobs.”

On the economy:

“This has become an election about a progressive and a conservative candidate trying to grab political middle ground. And that means things like continuing to focus on economic growth but a compassionate growth that doesn’t leave a lot of people behind, closing the income gap, raising the employment levels in Korea and a foreign policy, a different foreign policy toward North Korea, one that is probably more forward leaning than what we have seen in the past five years during the Lee Myung Bak administration.”

On relations with China and Japan:

“China has not been as cooperative as people had hoped for in the UN Security Council and its sanctions against North Korea in response to the missile test. I think China, Japan are all going to be watching very carefully, this election in South Korea, because Korea is a very important player in the region, not just on the North Korea issue but on a variety of economic and global issues, and they are going to want to work with this new government particularly as Japan-China relations have become quite testy over the past few months over the islands issues. So they are both going to be looking to Korea as a potential partner.”