Moon Jae-in was sworn in as the 19th President of South Korea [press release] on Wednesday, later that day seeking international assistance on North Korean weapons threats. Moon had a phone call with US President Donald Trump focusing [KBS report] on the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea. Trump invited Moon to the Washington [press release] to discuss the issue “at an early date,” an invitation that Moon accepted. Moon also took calls from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping [press releases], with an official statement from the president’s office stressing that North Korea’s weapons program is a primary concern for all three countries. “Denuclearization in Pyongyang [North Korea], and also across the peninsula, is our common goal,” according to the statement.
President Moon inherits a difficult and long-standing challenge in dealing with the reclusive communist country’s nuclear ambitions. In February, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump strongly condemned [text] a North Korea ballistic missile test during a joint conference from Palm Beach, Florida. Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, announced [JURIST report] in his New Year’s address that the country is in the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket. At the start of 2016, the US Congress approved additional sanctions [JURIST report] including the seizure of assets and limitation of commerce in response to reports that North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb [NYT report]. In April of 2016, the UN “strongly condemn[ed]” [press release] North Korea’s testing of missiles and that February, UN Secretary General described North Korea’s missile launching as “deplorable” [JURIST report].