Why Seoul Backs Obama on North Korea

The U.S. President-elect's head-on approach to ending Pyongyang's nuclear program and its isolationism are in line with South Korean policy

At first blush, the election of Barack Obama as President raises the specter of policy clash between the U.S. and its ally South Korea over a nuclear-armed North Korea. During his campaign, Obama expressed his willingness to hold direct talks with North Korea, including a possible summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. On the other hand, conservative President Lee Myung Bak of South Korea took office in February with a vow to get firmer with Pyongyang, criticizing his predecessors' "sunshine" engagement policy that he said failed to address the North's nuclear ambitions and despicable human-rights abuses.

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