South Korea’s Moon sworn in, says willing to go to North

SEOUL: South Korea’s new president was sworn in on Wednesday, just a day after a landslide election victory, and immediately declared his willingness to visit Pyongyang amid high tensions with the nuclear-armed North.
Left-leaning Moon Jae-In, a former human rights lawyer, backs engagement with North Korea in the quest for peace — in contrast to the threatening rhetoric from the Trump administration in recent weeks.
“If needed I will fly to Washington immediately,” Moon said in an inauguration speech after taking the oath of office in front of lawmakers at Seoul’s National Assembly building.
Moon said in his first speech as president he would begin efforts to defuse security tensions on the Korean peninsula and negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease a row over a US missile defence system being deployed in the South.
In his first key appointments, Moon named two liberal veterans with ties to the “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with North Korea from the 2000s to the posts of prime minister and spy chief.
Moon named Suh Hoon, a career spy agency official and a veteran of inter-Korea ties, as the head of the National Intelligence Service. Suh was instrumental in setting up two previous summits between the North and South.
Veteran liberal politician Lee Nak-yon was nominated to serve as prime minister. Now a regional governor, Lee was a political ally of the two former presidents who held the summits with the North in 2000 and 2007,
Lee’s appointment requires parliamentary approval.
Moon was expected to fill the remaining cabinet and presidential staff appointments swiftly to bring an end to a power vacuum left by the removal of Park Geun-hye in March in a corruption scandal that rocked South Korea’s business and political elite.
“I will urgently try to solve the security crisis,” Moon said in the domed rotunda hall of the parliament building. “If needed, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo and, if the conditions are right, to Pyongyang also.”— Reuters