By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn plans to send a congratulatory message to incoming U.S. President Donald Trump in time for his inauguration later this month, an informed source said Monday.
The plan came as Seoul is seeking to strengthen its alliance with Washington amid a string of diplomatic and security challenges such as Beijing's apparent retaliation about the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system to the peninsula and a reignited row with Tokyo over Japan's wartime sexual slavery issue, not to mention North Korea's escalating military threats.
"In line with customary practices, we plan to send a congratulatory message to President-elect Donald Trump," the source with knowledge of the matter told Yonhap News Agency over the phone, declining to be named.
His message to Trump is to be delivered around Jan. 20 when the new U.S. administration takes office.
Since Hwang took over as acting president on Dec. 9 after President Park Geun-hye was impeached over a corruption scandal, he has stressed the need to strengthen communication and cooperation with the incoming Republican government.
In his message, Hwang is expected to strengthen joint efforts to counter Pyongyang's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
In the nationally televised address on New Year's day, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a veiled threat that Pyongyang is close to mastering the technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Pyongyang also said it can test-fire an ICBM "at any time and any place."
Seoul has sought to get off to a good start with the new Washington government amid concerns about policy shifts under Trump's presidency.
On the stump, the real-estate mogul has belittled the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement as a "job-killing" pact, while stressing the need for key American allies such as South Korea and Japan to pay more for the upkeep of U.S. troops on their soil.
BTS' J-Hope closes Chicago's Lollapalooza festival
(2nd LD) Kim, Pelosi agree to support efforts for denuclearization of N. Korea
(LEAD) Assembly speaker meets with Pelosi amid heightened Sino-U.S. tensions
Assembly Speaker Kim to meet with U.S. House Speaker Pelosi this week
(LEAD) Yoon's approval rating falls to 28.9 pct
Court recognizes death after drinking with boss as workplace accident
150 front-line Army commandoes to conduct joint training at U.S. Army's National Training Center
Whereabouts of 55 Thai tourists on Jeju unknown
Deputy national security adviser resigns due to health reasons
(2nd LD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 100,000 for 6th day