Yoon Suk-yeol is a former prosecutor who represents a significant foreign policy shift for Seoul.
Current President Moon Jae-in favored engagement with the North Korean regime and balancing relations between Washington and Beijing. Yoon promises to take a tougher stance on North Korea and forge a closer bond with the United States.
He says he will not meet North Korea’s Kim unconditionally and has hypothetically advocated for a pre-emptive strike should an attack on South Korea become likely. He is also willing to consider expanding the American antimissile system which drew China’s wrath when implemented. In another departure from his predecessor, Yoon wants Seoul to participate in the Quad, a four-country group seeking to counter China’s regional influence. It currently includes the US, Japan, Australia, and India.
“We shall stand on the right side of history with the U.S. by making sure that those who undermine the liberal international order pay the price accordingly,” Mr. Yoon said in a written interview.
President Biden called Yoon to congratulate him on his victory. The two reportedly affirmed the strength of the US-South Korean alliance and vowed to work closely together to confront the North Korean missile threat.