President Moon Jae-in on Monday said he wants to bring North Korea to the negotiating table this year.
"What I hope to achieve by the end of this year is to draw North Korea out to the table for negotiation through the implementation of various and strong sanctions and pressure," he told CBS News at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday.
Asked whether talks with the North would be tantamount to caving in to its demands at a time when Pyongyang is refusing to make any concessions, Moon said, "I have never mentioned a dialogue with no preconditions whatsoever."
"I believe that first we must vie for a freeze of North Korea's nuke and missile programs. And then, as a second phase, try to achieve the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program," he added.
Moon said what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wants most "is to have a security guarantee for his regime. So there is a possibility that Kim Jong-un continues to make the bluff with his nuclear weapons programs. But deep inside he is actually yearning or wanting dialogue. But in the end, the only way to find out is to have a dialogue with North Korea."
He also denounced North Korea over the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American university student who died shortly after his release from 17 months of detention in the communist state.
"We cannot know for sure that North Korea killed Mr. Warmbier, but I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to his death," Moon said. "I strongly condemn such cruel actions by North Korea."
President Moon Jae-in talks to CBS This Morning at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Tuesday.