President Trump should avoid "excessive verbal threats" against North Korea, according to the ruling South Korean political party.
"Under such circumstances, an exchange of excessive verbal threats would only heighten anxiety," Kang Hoon-sik, a spokesman of the Republic of Korea's Democratic Party, said in a Saturday statement.
That was an apparent warning to Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who have traded barbs in the days since the president promised that the U.S. would "destroy" North Korea in the event of an attack. Trump's national security team has lobbied for international sanctions to compel North Korea to agree to an end to its nuclear program and authorized multiple displays of military power in the region.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, however, was elected on a relatively dovish platform of outreach to China and North Korea. "World leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly shared the view that North Korea's nuclear weapons pose a threat to the global peace and put their heads together to seek a solution to the problem," the Moon party spokesman said.
That elicited a rebuke from South Korea's main opposition party, which accused Moon of "begging for dialogue" with North Korea. "[P]eace cannot be secured only by words,"Jeong Yong-ki, a spokesman for the Liberty Korea Party, said in response. "He must recognize peace can be achieved only on the basis of power."
Moon suspended the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system to South Korea that was opposed fiercely by China and Russia, citing the need for an environmental review. But in the wake of additional North Korean missile tests, he called for a "temporary" deployment of the full defense battery. "At the time when the assessment is over, we will make a final decision again over the deployment," a presidential official told Yonhap News in August.