By Park Chan-Kyong
When South Korea fills a presidential vacuum next month, analysts say the first order of business for its new leader will be to tame Donald Trump's aggressive approach towards the nuclear-armed North.
The impeachment of former president Park Geun-Hye -- who took a hard line on North Korea -- forced her out of Seoul's Blue House, giving the White House free rein in a crisis over Pyongyang's weapons programme.
Trump has told leader Kim Jong-Un that he's "gotta behave" while US officials have repeatedly warned that "all options are on the table", prompting dire threats of retaliation.
The North has made progress towards its goal of developing a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the US mainland, and speculation has mounted that it could conduct another nuclear test.
But in the South Korean race to succeed the now detained Park, both front-runner Moon Jae-In of the main opposition Democratic Party, and his only serious challenger Ahn Cheol-Soo are urging Trump to cool his position.
Both oppose any first strike by the US.
"Currently, South Korea has no president and its voice in the crucial security issue on the Korean peninsula has simply not been heard," said Hong Hyun-Ik, senior researcher at the private Sejong Institute.
"But when the next president comes in after May 9 election, he would urge Washington to coordinate closely with Seoul in talking about things such as pre-emptive strikes against the North", he told AFP.
Seoul National University political science professor Kang Won-Taek added that whoever wins, they will pursue dialogue with the North more actively than Park, and "seek to put a damper on harsh US rhetoric".
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