By Park Chan-Kyong
The election of South Korea's new president Moon Jae-In heralds a turn of the tide in Seoul's approach towards the nuclear-armed North -- and puts it on a potential collision course with Washington.
The left-leaning new leader -- a former human rights lawyer -- favours engagement and dialogue with Pyongyang over its atomic and missile ambitions.
In contrast, Donald Trump's administration has called for stepped up sanctions and warned military action is an "option on the table", sending fears of conflict spiralling.
The 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty and the two Koreas are divided by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), one of the most heavily fortified places on Earth.
The isolated, impoverished North is accused of widespread rights abuses and dreams of a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.
It has carried out five atomic tests -- two of them last year -- and multiple rocket launches.
The last time South Korea had a liberal leadership it embraced a "Sunshine Policy" of rapprochement with Pyongyang and, as a close aide to then president Roh Moo-Hyun, Moon helped arrange the last inter-Korean summit with late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
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