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South Korea's opposition vows to get tough on North Korea

Hwang Kyo-ahn (C) of South Korea's main opposition United Future Party has supported a hard-line North Korea policy. Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE
Hwang Kyo-ahn (C) of South Korea's main opposition United Future Party has supported a hard-line North Korea policy. Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

April 6 (UPI) -- South Korean conservatives of the main opposition United Future Party are pitching a hard-line North Korea policy as the nation's parliamentary race heats up ahead of general elections on April 15.

Opposition party politicians are vowing to review the North Korea policy of President Moon Jae-in, who has defended his engagement with Kim Jong Un, despite Pyongyang's rejection of Seoul's offer of working-level talks and the regime's refusal to denuclearize.

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UFP said in its pledge the mission of the party is "true peace on the Korean Peninsula" and summarized 151 "action points" grouped into four categories, local news service Tongil News reported Monday.

The party, which includes high-profile defector Thae Yong-ho among its candidates, said it would seek to abolish the Sept. 19 inter-Korea military agreement signed in 2018, which reduced tensions at the border and culminated in the removal of some guard posts at the demilitarized zone.

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"North Korea is no longer implementing" the agreement, the party said in its statement.

UFP also said it would pursue a new United Nations Security Council resolution to strengthen the responsibilities of the U.S.-led U.N. Command. Security would be heightened at the Northern Limit Line between the two Koreas where maritime clashes have previously occurred, the party said.

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The party also called for greater protection of North Koreans seeking asylum in the South, citing the repatriation of two North Koreans last November. A law would be passed to prevent North Korean asylum seekers from being returned to their country of origin, UFP said.

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In its proposal, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea defended Moon's policies and said the "peace economy" of the peninsula would be realized through current policy, including the September 2018 military agreement, the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula and continued pursuit of inter-Korea civil exchange.

Key politicians who served in the Moon administration are running for office, including Ko Min-jung, the former spokeswoman for the president.

Ko is running against former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon in the Gwangjin district of Seoul. In a debate that aired on Sunday, Ko accused Oh of giving out bribes to security guards at his apartment complex, Newsis reported. Oh has denied the claims.

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