South Korea set to change policy on North as liberal wins election

from the Guardian

Moon Jae-in, a left-leaning liberal who favours engagement with North Korea, has won South Korea’s presidential election, raising hopes of a potential rapprochement with Pyongyang.

The former human rights lawyer won 41.4% of the vote, according to an exit poll cited by the Yonhap news agency, placing him comfortably ahead of his nearest rivals, the centrist software entrepreneur Ahn Cheol-soo and the conservative hardliner Hong Joon-pyo, both of whom have conceded defeat.

South Koreans who backed Moon, 64, will be hoping the election result will mark a clean break from the corruption scandal surrounding his disgraced predecessor Park Geun-hye.

Hours before polls closed, the national election commission forecast that turnout would exceed 80% – the highest since Kim Dae-jung was elected in 1997.

During a campaign in which Moon sought to add conservative voters to his liberal support base, the Democratic party candidate captured the public mood with vows to reform South Korea’s powerful chaebols, family-owned conglomerates, and tackle rising inequality and youth unemployment.

Moon has called for a more conciliatory approach to North Korea, after weeks of tensions over the regime’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes…

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