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Park Lists Top Priorities as South Korean Jobs, North Deterrence

Incoming South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s top policy priorities are creating more jobs to drive growth and boosting military deterrence against a growing threat from North Korea, her transition team said today.

Park, whose term starts Feb. 25, intends to increase welfare spending and fund more information technology and science research, according to a policy statement released in Seoul. She will also push to improve a domestic missile defense system and strengthen intelligence gathering on North Korea by introducing unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

“Deterrence and security will be bolstered in the short term, while pursuing normalized inter-Korean relations and sustainable peace on the Korean peninsula in the long-term,” Park’s team said in the statement. “Missile capability will be expanded to develop a ‘Kill Chain’ system to preemptively strike North Korean missile launchers and nuclear facilities.”

The policy road map reflects a change in Park’s stance toward North Korea after Kim Jong Un’s regime tested a nuclear device this month. During her campaign, she promised to mend ties -- battered during her predecessor Lee Myung Bak’s term -- by offering humanitarian aid and economic support to Kim.

The incoming administration’s stance is “based on strong deterrence, not one of appeasement,” Park told her advisers the day after the Feb. 12 atomic experiment, according to an e-mailed statement after the test. “There will be some changes to the policy but the general framework won’t be altered, as it was formed with the expectation that North Korea would act this way.”

The Pentagon in December proposed selling four Global Hawk surveillance drones made by Northrop Grumman Corp. to South Korea for $1.2 billion. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration is in the process of selecting the winner of a $7 billion fighter jet contract.

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