AP

New South Korea leader offers support if North denuclearizes

May 8, 2022, 3:44 PM | Updated: May 10, 2022, 3:56 am

Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, left, arrive to atte...

Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, left, arrive to attend incoming President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)

(Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)


              Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, left, arrive to attend incoming President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye arrives for the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, as he arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Students perform before the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              People attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Crowds of people attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival at his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, and his wife Kim Keon-hee arrive to attend his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean guard of honor perform during an inaugural ceremony of the new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol attends during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol waves from a car after the Presidential Inauguration outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Ha Sa-hun/Yonhap via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol attends the meeting with U.S. second gentleman Douglas Emhoff (not in pictured) after his inauguration ceremony at new presidential office Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol waves from a car after the Presidential Inauguration outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, left, arrive to attend incoming President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye arrives for the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, as he arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Students perform before the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              People attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Crowds of people attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival at his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, and his wife Kim Keon-hee arrive to attend his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean guard of honor perform during an inaugural ceremony of the new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol attends during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol waves from a car after the Presidential Inauguration outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Ha Sa-hun/Yonhap via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during the 20th Presidential inaugural reception at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol attends the meeting with U.S. second gentleman Douglas Emhoff (not in pictured) after his inauguration ceremony at new presidential office Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol waves from a car after the Presidential Inauguration outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, and his wife Kim Keon-hee arrive to attend his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, left, arrive to attend incoming President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye arrives for the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, as he arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Students perform before the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean guard of honor perform during an inaugural ceremony of the new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              People attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Crowds of people attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival at his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol waves from a car after the Presidential Inauguration outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, and his wife Kim Keon-hee arrive to attend his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and his wife Kim Jung-sook, left, arrive to attend incoming President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye arrives for the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, as he arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Students perform before the inauguration ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean guard of honor perform during an inaugural ceremony of the new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              People attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Crowds of people attend the inaugural ceremony for South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee attend his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, shakes hands with former President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival at his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Supporters greet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, center right, arrives for his inaugural ceremony at the the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Yoon took office as South Korea’s new president Tuesday with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea's threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve Pyongyang’s economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons. (Kim Min-hee/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol waves from a car after the Presidential Inauguration outside the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              People arrive at the president's inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              Police officers walk outside the National Assembly where South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol's inauguration ceremony takes place in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol front center, takes an oath during his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (Jeon Heon-kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, front right, and his wife Kim Keon-hee, front left, attend his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (Jeon Heon-kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              People watch a TV screen showing a live broadcast of the inauguration ceremony of newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
            
              People watch a TV screen showing a live broadcast of the inauguration ceremony of newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
            
              People watch a TV screen showing a live broadcast of the inauguration ceremony of newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol salutes during his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (Jeon Heon-kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              People arrive at the President's inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korea's national flags are seen outside of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              A picture of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol is seen before the President inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korea’s outgoing President Moon Jae-in, left, and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave as they leave the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 9, 2022. South Korea's departing liberal president defended his policy of engaging North Korea, saying in his farewell speech Monday that he hopes efforts to restore peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula will continue. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol takes an oath during his inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. South Korea's new president says he'll present "an audacious plan" to improve North Korea's economy if it denuclearizes. Yoon Suk Yeol made the offer during a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday. (Jeon Heon-kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              South Korea's national flags are seen outside of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              A picture of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol is seen before the President inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korea’s outgoing President Moon Jae-in, left, and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave as they leave the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 9, 2022. South Korea's departing liberal president defended his policy of engaging North Korea, saying in his farewell speech Monday that he hopes efforts to restore peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula will continue. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korea's national flags are seen outside of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              A picture of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol is seen before the President inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Conservative Yoon Suk Yeol took office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              South Korea’s outgoing President Moon Jae-in, left, and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave as they leave the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 9, 2022. South Korea's departing liberal president defended his policy of engaging North Korea, saying in his farewell speech Monday that he hopes efforts to restore peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula will continue. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
            
              FILE - A building of the Defense Ministry which will be used as the country's new presidential office, is seen in Seoul, South Korea on March 21, 2022. Yoon takes office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, May 9, 2022, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (Im Hun-jung/Yonhap via AP, File)
            
              FILE - In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un acknowledges the officers and soldiers who took part in a celebration the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, in North Korea on April 27, 2022. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
            
              South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, second from left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second fro right, talk before their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on March 8, 2022. Yoon takes office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, May 9, 2022, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (Kim Jin-ah/Newsis via AP)
            
              FILE - South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol holds bouquets as he is congratulated by party's members and lawmakers at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on March 10, 2022. Yoon takes office as South Korea’s president on Tuesday, May 9, 2022, facing a tougher mix of foreign policy and domestic challenges than other recent South Korean leaders encountered at the start of their presidencies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative political neophyte, took office Tuesday as South Korea’s new president with a vow to pursue a negotiated settlement of North Korea’s threatening nuclear program and an offer of “an audacious plan” to improve its economy if it abandons its nuclear weapons.

Yoon is starting his single five-year term during one of the most challenging situations of any recent new president, facing a mix of significant security, economic and social problems that are besetting the world’s 10th largest economy. There’s widespread skepticism that an increasingly belligerent North Korea will give his offers much consideration, and South Korea’s deep political and social divides, as well as growing worry about the state of the pandemic-hit economy, are reflected in a recent poll showing that Yoon faces lower popularity numbers than the departing liberal president, Moon Jae-in.

Yoon had promised a tougher stance on North Korea during his campaign, but he avoided harsh rhetoric during his inaugural speech amid growing worries that the North is preparing its first nuclear bomb test in nearly five years. North Korea has rejected similar overtures by some of Yoon’s predecessors that linked incentives to progress in its denuclearization.

“While North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs are a threat, not only to our security but also to Northeast Asia, the door to dialogue will remain open so that we can peacefully resolve this threat,” Yoon told a crowd gathered outside parliament in Seoul.

“If North Korea genuinely embarks on a process to complete denuclearization, we are prepared to work with the international community to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life for its people,” he said.

Yoon also addressed South Korea’s growing economic problems, saying the decaying job market and a widening rich-poor gap are brewing a democratic crisis by stoking “internal strife and discord” and fueling a spread of “anti-intellectualism.”

He said he would spur economic growth to heal the deep political divide and income equalities.

North Korea’s advancing nuclear program is a vexing security challenge for Yoon, who won the March 9 election on a promise to strengthen South Korea’s 70-year military alliance with the United States and build up its own missile capability to neutralize North Korean threats.

In recent months, North Korea has test-launched a spate of nuclear-capable missiles that could target South Korea, Japan and the mainland United States. It appears to be trying to rattle Yoon’s government while modernizing its weapons arsenal and pressuring the Biden administration into relaxing sanctions. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently warned that his nuclear weapons won’t be confined to their primary mission of deterring war if the North’s national interests are threatened.

In a policy briefing earlier Tuesday, South Korean military chief Won In-Choul told Yoon that North Korea can conduct a nuclear test soon if Kim decides to do so. Yoon then ordered military commanders to maintain firm readiness, saying that “the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is very grave.”

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute said there’s little chance North Korea will accept Yoon’s conditional support plan because the North believes South Korea must first abandon its hostile policies, by which it means regular military drills with the United States, before talks can resume.

Yoon must also deal with a destabilizing U.S.-China rivalry and disputes over history with Japan. South Korea is also bracing for the fallout of Russia’s war on Ukraine in global energy markets.

South Korea must accept that it cannot force North Korea to denuclearize or ease the U.S.-China standoff, according to Chung Jin-young, a professor at Kyung Hee University. He said South Korea must instead focus on strengthening its defense capability and boosting the U.S. alliance to “make North Korea never dare think about a nuclear attack on us.” He said South Korea must also prevent ties with Beijing from worsening.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday that Beijing is ready to work with Yoon’s government to boost strategic partnership and jointly promote regional peace and stability. China sent Vice President Wang Qishan to Yoon’s inauguration ceremony.

Yoon didn’t mention Japan during his speech. After the inauguration ceremony, he met visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who told him that ties need to be urgently repaired. Yoon expressed his willingness to work together with Japan to improve their relations, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

During his campaign, he accused Moon of exploiting Japan for domestic political reasons and stressed Tokyo’s strategic importance. But some experts say Yoon could end up in the same policy rut as Moon, considering the countries’ deep disagreements over sensitive history issues such as Tokyo’s wartime mobilization of Korean laborers and sex slaves.

Some of Yoon’s major domestic policies may face an impasse in parliament, which will remain controlled by liberal lawmakers ahead of general elections in 2024. Yoon must also rebuild South Korea’s pandemic response, shaken by a massive omicron surge in recent months.

He has also been denied a honeymoon period. Surveys show less than 60% of respondents expect he will do well in his presidency, an unusually low figure compared to his predecessors, who mostly received about 80%-90% before they entered office. His approval rating as a president-elect was 41%, according to a survey by Gallup Korea released last week that put then President Moon’s rating at 45%.

Yoon’s low popularity is blamed in part on an acute divide between conservatives and liberals and on contentious policies and Cabinet picks. Some experts say Yoon also hasn’t shown a clear vision for how to navigate South Korea past the foreign policy and domestic challenges.

Yoon won the election by a historically narrow margin after catering to public frustration over Moon’s setbacks in economic policies, which were criticized for letting house prices and personal debt soar out of control and failing to create enough jobs. Yoon focused much of his message on young males who resented the loss of traditional privileges in a hyper-competitive job market and their dimmed prospects for marriage and parenthood, although his campaign was criticized for ignoring the plight of women.

“The challenges that Yoon has at the start of his presidency are the toughest and the most unfavorable ones” among South Korean presidents elected since the late 1980s, a period viewed as the start of the country’s genuine democracy after decades of dictatorship, said Choi Jin, director of the Seoul-based Institute of Presidential Leadership.

In recent weeks, Yoon has invited criticism — even from some of his conservative supporters — by moving his offices from the mountainside Blue House presidential palace. Yoon said moving to the capital’s center is meant to better communicate with the public, but critics question why he has made it a priority when he has so many other urgent issues to tackle.

Yoon, 61, was prosecutor-general for Moon before he resigned and joined the main conservative opposition party last year following internal feuding with Moon’s political allies.

___

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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