South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants to use his final months in office to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough in relations with North Korea.

"If the opportunity arises, the government will pursue the normalization of intra-Korean relations and the path to irreversible peace by the end of my term in office," said Moon on Monday in the last New Year's address of his five-year presidency.

However, the chances of the “declaration of the end of the war” sought by Moon are not good.

Patrick Welter

Correspondent for business and politics in Japan, based in Tokyo.

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According to the South Korean account, the United States government is in principle open to the project, but has other foreign policy priorities in these months.

North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-un, on the other hand, made no mention of Moon's move in his New Year's address.

Kim and Moon met in three summits in 2018 to discuss rapprochement between the two Korean states and the denuclearization of the peninsula. After Moon opened the door for Kim's unsuccessful summit meeting with the then American President Donald Trump, North Korea largely answered all further advances by the South Korean with silence. A few months before the change of office in Seoul, North Korea's Kim is already waiting for his successor, say observers in the South Korean capital.

North and South Korea have lived in an armistice since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The left-liberal Moon hopes to be able to stir the deadlocked talks on nuclear disarmament in North Korea with an official declaration at the end of the war. Moon admitted on Monday that there was still a long way to go. But if both Korean states got involved, the international community would react, said the outgoing South Korean president. He claims that the inter-Korean talks and the North Korean-American summits came about through his initiative. He hoped that the future government would endeavor to enter into a dialogue with North Korea.

Ahead of the presidential election in early March, South Korean opinion polls are currently headed by Moon's Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung. The governor of Gyeonggi province advocates a pragmatic course and the lifting of sanctions against North Korea's commitments to nuclear disarmament. Should North Korea fail to keep its commitments, the sanctions would automatically have to come back into force. The conservative rival candidate Yoon Suk-yeol has spoken out in a departure from the previous hard line of the conservatives for humanitarian aid for North Korea without conditions. He promotes trilateral talks between the United States and the two Korean states. On the other hand, Yoon's idea of ​​making preparations is likely to meet with strong rejection by the North Korean also station American nuclear weapons in South Korea in an emergency.