South Korea by-elections cast doubt on outreach to Pyongyang

Heavy losses for the ruling party in mayoral races set the stage for an unpredictable presidential election and uncertainty in the country's foreign policy direction

Voters at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. Comfortable victories by the opposition conservative People Power Party in the by-elections in Seoul and Busan deal a blow to Mr Moon Jae-in's progressive Democratic Party ahead of the
Voters at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. Comfortable victories by the opposition conservative People Power Party in the by-elections in Seoul and Busan deal a blow to Mr Moon Jae-in's progressive Democratic Party ahead of the presidential election next year, according to the writers.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL • The future of South Korea's pursuit of rapprochement with its nuclear-armed neighbour has been thrown into doubt after the ruling party suffered a stunning defeat in mayoral by-elections in the country's two biggest cities.

Voters in the capital Seoul and the southern port city of Busan handed comfortable victories on Wednesday to candidates from the opposition conservative People Power Party, dealing a blow to Mr Moon Jae-in's progressive Democratic Party ahead of the presidential election next year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'South Korea by-elections cast doubt on outreach to Pyongyang'. Subscribe