Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

S Korea's Moon to reopen probe into Gwangju massacre

S Korea's Moon to reopen probe into Gwangju massacre

North Korea is also stepping up diplomatic actions to seek support and understanding from other countries over its missile launch.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Thursday with a special envoy sent by new South Korean President Moon Jae-in as the two countries attempted to mend a rift in ties over the deployment of a high-tech American missile defence system in South Korea to guard against North Korean threats.

North Korean officials accused the USA of pressuring other countries into severing or degrading diplomatic ties with it by misusing "sanction resolutions" against it. Pyongyang hailed as a success the launch that was aimed at testing its missiles' ability to carry a heavy warhead, a measure it says it needs to counter U.S. hostility.

China for its part has been infuriated by the US deployment of an advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tension with Pyongyang.

A unification ministry spokesman in Seoul said Wednesday that the lines haven't technically been cut, but North Korean officials have not responded to near daily calls from their counterparts in the South.

Left-leaning Moon favours engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, but after Sunday's missile launch said dialogue would be possible "only if Pyongyang changes its behaviour".

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The video - viewed by Wednesday more than 300,000 times on Facebook and Twitter and nearly 2.7 million times on the Chinese video-posting site Maiopai - represents the latest example of China's use of non-diplomatic channels to broadcast its displeasure with South Korea. "Seoul needs to make a choice between deploying THAAD and resuming Sino-South Korean relations".

South Korean retailer Lotte, which provided the land for the THAAD deployment, has also been boycotted by Chinese customers and seen construction halted on an amusement park it was building in northeastern China.

Such moves underscore a willingness on the part of China's Communist Party leaders to fan the flames of anti-South Korea sentiment, said Korea expert Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University in MA.

"THAAD retaliation is a Chinese government-engineered project", Lee said. "It can be controlled and reversed by Beijing".

In recent weeks Beijing and Seoul have signalled a desire to fix relations following the election of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has taken a friendlier stance toward China than his conservative predecessor.

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