S Korean 'Bernie Sanders': Why Moon's Rise to Power Sends Mixed Signals to US

© REUTERS / Yonhap South Korean President Moon Jae-in waves as he heads for the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2017.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in waves as he heads for the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2017. - Sputnik International
Moon Jae-in stands a good chance of finding common ground with Moscow, Russian political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev wrote for RIA Novosti, adding that Moon's election promises correspond to Moscow and Beijing's vision.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor arrives at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, in this handout picture provided by the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and released by Yonhap on March 7, 2017. Picture taken on March 6, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Moon Jae-in's rise to power in South Korea may potentially ease the ongoing tensions on the peninsula.

Commenting on Moon's win in his op-ed for RIA Novosti Russian journalist and political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev noted that the South Korean newly elected president greatly resembles America's former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"The victory of President Moon was just as predictable as the defeat of Marin Le Pen. His rivals did not have a chance — which is understandable, if you recall the monthslong scandal surrounding Moon's predecessor, impeached [South Korean President] Park Geun-hye. The candidate from her party was well aware that he would lose," Kosyrev wrote.

What is more important, it was clear that the coming to power of the Democratic Party of Korea's presidential candidate would signal a change in Seoul's attitude toward North Korea and its "nuclear threat," he highlighted.

In light of this one may assume that Moon's win plays directly into the hands of Moscow and Beijing, which are making efforts to prevent further escalation of the North Korean nuclear problem.

"Moscow welcomes any statements or actions aimed at de-escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday.

This file photo taken on December 18, 2012 shows South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-In of the opposition Democratic United Party speaking during a press conference at the party head office in Seoul. - Sputnik International
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Kosyrev noted that if one takes a look at the list of Moon's election promises, one would see that the newly elected president is likely to push ahead with the rapprochement between Seoul and Pyongyang within the framework of the so-called "Sunshine Policy."

Furthermore, Moon's plan envisages a potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the renewal of the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Andrew Korybko, a political analyst and regular contributor to Sputnik, suggested that the election of South Korean President Moon Jae-in "presents a historic opportunity for the country to earn its rightful place in the Multipolar Century."

"South Korea's new leader basically branded himself as a breath of fresh air in a stale political climate, and true to his populist positions, he immediately said that he'd be a "president for the people" following news that he won the election by a landslide," Korybko wrote in his recent op-ed for Sputnik.

"Should Moon succeed in his stated agenda, then he has the chance to historically redefine South Korea's place on the world stage and turn it into a powerful multipolar actor in Asian affairs," he stressed.

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, attends a working lunch with Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, (not pictured), at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, December 16, 2016. - Sputnik International
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The question then arises whether Washington is satisfied with the outcome of the South Korean election given the fact that Moon is looking forward to strengthening ties with China, Russia, Japan and the US and is going to learn how to say "no" to America.

"This is primarily about the installation in South Korea of the American system of anti-missile defense (THAAD). In short, the Americans dragged these anti-missiles into the country ahead of schedule, in April, being well aware that the favorite of the May [presidential] elections would like to dismantle these systems," Kosyrev underscored.

After Moon's election, the future of the US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea may be thrown into doubt.

"In any case, exactly what is happening now is in the interest of China and Russia: namely, the ambiguity surrounding THAAD, with its possible de-installation, the emergence of the prospect of negotiations with Pyongyang (no matter with what participation) and the 'sunshine' policy [pursued by] the new South Korean President," Kosyrev wrote.

As for Moon and the Democratic Party of Korea's political affiliation, he is a left-wing politician, according to the Russian political commentator.

"If one carefully looks at the election program of the new South Korean leader and his biography, one will see that [Moon] is a lawyer and human rights activist, a little bit of a socialist who is calling for raising taxes, salaries and pensions, and who opposes nuclear and coal energy. He also wants to be 'closer to the people' and plans to move the presidential office to the business part of the city," Kosyrev remarked.

"That means that if Moon were American, he would be called Bernie Sanders, and if he were French, he would be Francois Hollande or, even Emmanuel Macron," he added.

However, while the aforementioned liberal Western candidates could by no means be called pro-Russian, it is highly likely that Moon will find a common language with Moscow, Kosyrev believes. 

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