The Straits Times
Published on Dec 04, 2012

North Korea divides South's presidential hopefuls


SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's two main presidential contenders clashed on Tuesday in a debate over security policy as North Korea readied a rocket launch that is timed to coincide with the South's Dec 19 election.

Both conservative Park Geun-hye, the daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee, and leftist Moon Jae-in have pledged to engage with North Korea, although Moon has offered unconditional talks with the reclusive and impoverished state in a bid to improve relations between the two Koreas.

"I will reopen the door to peace," Mr Moon said in the televised debate, adding he would restart all commercial projects and exchanges with the North that had been halted under incumbent President Lee Myung-bak.

Ms Park called on North Korea to stop its planned rocket launch, saying it would deepen the impoverished state's isolation.