(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 3-5, 14; UPDATES dateline)
NEW YORK/SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was elected Tuesday as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term, expanding its foothold in the U.N. body to better address the North Korean issue and other global security challenges.
As the only candidate nation in Asia, Seoul was chosen in a vote at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, returning to the UNSC in 11 years after last sitting on the council in 2013-14. South Korea won the seat after garnering 180 votes among 192 member states during the assembly.
Seoul's foreign ministry welcomed the results, vowing efforts to "lead discussions" in issues related to security, peacekeeping and women, as well as new threats, such as cybersecurity and climate change.
"As a country directly involved in the Korean Peninsula issue, we will actively contribute to UNSC efforts to address the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear development," Ahn Eun-ju, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, said in a press briefing.
South Korea has a "strong" commitment to joining U.N. efforts in maintaining international peace and security as a country that has achieved economic development and democratization through assistance from the U.N. and the global community, she added.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, South Korean Ambassador to the U.N. Hwang Joon-kook also said he was very pleased to see the support of many member countries in the election.
"We will do our best to contribute to world peace, freedom and prosperity through diplomacy based on universal values, the principles of the U.N. Charter and by expanding cooperation with developing countries," he said.
This marks the third time for South Korea to serve as one of the 10 nonpermanent UNSC members. It previously served in the seat during the 1996-97 term.
The election came as North Korea has recently ramped up developments of its nuclear and missile programs. Last week, the North launched what it claimed to be a satellite-carrying rocket, a move denounced by Washington and other countries as a violation of UNSC resolutions banning any launch using ballistic missile technology.
The council, the U.N.'s most powerful body that can make legally binding decision such as imposing sanctions, consists of five permanent members, including the U.S., China and Russia, and 10 nonpermanent members.
The current nonpermanent members are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Switzerland, Ecuador, Japan, Malta and Mozambique.
The five newly-elected countries, including Algeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone and Slovenia, will join the current nonpermanent members of the UNSC starting January, replacing seats occupied by Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the UAE.
As a new nonpermanent member, South Korea is expected to step up its voice in the wake of Pyongyang's escalating provocations and strengthen its trilateral cooperation with the United States and Japan, though it could have limitations as it has no veto power.
South Korea is likely to assume president of the council in June next year, a foreign ministry official told reporters. Each of the UNSC members takes up the presidency for a month in accordance with the alphabetical order of the countries.
The council replaces half of its nonpermanent members for every two-year term.
To win a nonpermanent seat, a country needs to secure at least two-thirds of the votes from the countries attending the general assembly, out of the 193 member states.
(Asiad) S. Korea taking on China in men's football quarters; medals to be awarded in golf
(Asiad) S. Korea blank China to reach men's football semifinals
N. Korea says relations with Russia are 'powerful fortress' for preserving peace
(LEAD) (Asiad) PGA Tour winner Im Sung-jae in contention for 2 medals in Hangzhou
S. Korea says N. Korea will never be recognized as nuclear-weapon state
(News Focus) Travis King's release an opportunity for rapprochement in U.S.-N. Korea ties?
DP averts crisis following court's rejection of Lee's arrest; focus shifts to unity
5 years after signing, future of inter-Korean military accord unclear
In desperation, N. Korea, Russia turn to one another for mutual assistance rivaling U.S.-S. Korea cooperation
Yoon seeks to carve out bigger role for S. Korea in Indo-Pacific, world