13 Days Remaining

Friday 19th
posted by James Tweedie in World

SOUTH KOREAN President Moon Jae In vowed yesterday to reopen the probe into a 1980 massacre of pro-democracy protesters.

Mr Moon made the pledge at an anniversary commemoration in Gwanju, where hundreds were killed in a crackdown by the military dictatorship.

He was the first president to attend the event since 2013, when his disgraced predecessor Park Geun Hye came in the first year of her presidency.

Chun Doo Hwan — the general who seized power months after the assassination of Ms Park’s father, dictator Park Chung Hee — was sentenced to death over the massacre in 1996 but pardoned the next year.

“The new government will invest greater effort into fully revealing the truth surrounding the May 18 democracy movement,” Mr Moon said.

“We will at any cost unveil the truth and responsibilities behind the shootings.”

Meanwhile MP and former prime minister Lee Hae Chan met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing yesterday.

Mr Lee is one of four envoys sent by Mr Moon to improve relations with the US, Japan, China and Russia.

Mr Wang urged Seoul to remove the US THAAD antiballistic missile system from its territory.

The system was deployed under the previous government on the pretext of North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, but Beijing and Moscow say it is aimed at neutralising their own deterrents.

“We’re now at a crossroads in our relations,” Mr Wang told Mr Lee as he urged Seoul to “remove the obstacles” in the way of good relations between the neighbours.

An editorial in China’s Global Times yesterday — seen as the voice of the Communist Party — said: “Stopping the deployment of THAAD is the bottom line of China.”

It warned the deployment would “definitely intensify the nuclear arms race and security dilemmas on the Korean peninsula,” already in “deep chaos.”

On Wednesday another of Mr Moon’s envoys Hong Seok Hyun met briefly with US President Donald Trump — who reiterated his willingness to hold talks with North Korea.

Mr Hong said Mr Trump was ready for “engagement if certain conditions are right,” but “not talk for talk’s sake but for talks that produce an outcome.”