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Stephan Haggard on Future of S. Korean Relations with N. Korea

Park's Victory Offers Relief

Parameswarana Ponnudurai, Radio Free Asia

Countries worried about North Korea's illicit nuclear weapons and missile development programs may be heaving a sigh of relief that Park Geun-hye has been elected South Korea's new president.

Not that Park, the 60-year-old daughter of a former dictator, is going to emulate her conservative party's outgoing President Lee Myung-bak's hard-line policy towards the North.

The sense of relief has more to do with the loss suffered by her liberal rival Moon Jae-In, who had pledged unconditional engagement and economic assistance to North Korea.

The United States particularly has been concerned that any such move could fuel the North's weapons building programs, especially after its launch of a long-range rocket carrying a satellite into orbit last week in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

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Stephan Haggard is the director of the Korea-Pacific Program at IR/PS, where he specializes in the Korean economy. In 2011 Haggard published Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea with co-author Marcus Noland, with whom he had previously authored Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform. Dr. Haggard writes the "North Korea: Witness to Transformation" blog at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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