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South Korea presidential hopefuls condemn North's launch

Coming just a week before South Korea begins its elections, the North Korean rocked launch was condemned by South Korea's two main presidential candidates

AFP , Wednesday 12 Dec 2012
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The two main candidates in South Korea's presidential election condemned Wednesday's North Korean rocket launch, which came just a week before the South goes to the polls.

Conservative front-runner Park Geun-Hye slammed the launch as a "provocation" to South Korea and to the international community and said it was clearly intended to cloud the December 19 ballot.

"North Korea, which has always tried to influence past elections, is now testing the will of our people," she said at a rally in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

She urged voters to stay calm and pick a leader with "a firm determination to guard our nation and sovereignty".

Park's ruling New Frontier Party is traditionally seen as strong on national security and tough on Pyongyang, and some analysts suggest she will benefit most from any launch fallout.

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-In of the Democratic United Party said the rocket launch was a "clear breach" of UN Security Council resolutions.

"I strongly oppose any North Korean actions endangering peace on the Korean peninsula," he said.

Both Moon and Park have signalled a desire for greater engagement with Pyongyang and held out the possibility of a summit with its leader Kim Jong-Un.

Of the two, Moon is seen as more accommodating to the North. He was a top aide to former president Roh Moo-Hyun who had carried on the "sunshine policy" of engagement started by his predecessor Kim Dae-Jung.

But most analysts say the impact of the launch will be limited, with voters focused on domestic issues of income disparities, welfare and unemployment at a time of economic slowdown.

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