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Obama and South Korea's President Park must agree on North Korea policy

As President Obama meets today with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, how closely they agree on policy toward North Korea and whether they establish a good working relationship will be key to dealing with an increasingly dangerous new leadership in Pyongyang.

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Visiting South Korea President Park Geun-hye lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 6. Op-ed contributors Gi-Wook Shin and David Straub write: 'It is time for a new approach, and the answer may lie in letting Seoul take the lead in dealing with Pyongyang....For that reason, President Park’s visit to Washington this week is vital to establishing the...policy consensus needed.'

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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North Korea has toned down its threats since celebrating founding dictator Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15, and the Boston bombing has relegated North Korea to the inside pages. But the challenges North Korea poses for both Washington and Seoul remain as serious as ever.

That is why President Obama’s meeting today with South Korean President Park Geun-hye is especially important. This will be the newly inaugurated Ms. Park’s first summit with Mr. Obama. How closely they agree on policy toward Pyongyang and whether they establish a good working relationship will be key – even more so than China’s long hoped-for role – to dealing with an increasingly dangerous new North Korean leadership.

South Korea has become a major player in regional and even global affairs. With only 50 million people, it is the world’s sixth-largest exporter, and no country is more directly affected by North Korea’s actions.

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