Liberal Moon Jae-in on Tuesday won South Korea’s presidential election. The Democratic Party candidate won 41.08% of the votes, followed by conservative Hong Jun-pyo at 24.03% and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo at 21.41, according to CNN.
“This is a great victory for the great people who have been with me to build a just country, united country and a country where principles and common sense work,” Moon said at a rally in Seoul. He said he will be a “president for the people” and will work with political rivals to create a country where “justice rules and common sense prevails”, The New York Times reported.
Although official results were not declared till Tuesday midnight local time, Moon’s contenders appeared to have conceded defeat. Exit polls had also predicted a victory for Moon with similar numbers.
Presidency for the 64-year-old former human rights lawyer is likely to mean a more open policy on North Korea for the country. Born to North Korean refugees, Moon will also face the challenge of balancing relations with the United States and China after upholding his campaign promise of establishing a dialogue with North Korea.
According to South Korea’s National Election Commission, more than 33.8 million people had voted during the presidential election, which was necessitated after President Park Geun-hye’s ouster. The 77.2% voter turnout was the highest since 1997, when Kim Dae-jung was elected president.
Park was accused of colluding with her long-time friend and confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to extort money in the form of donations from South Korean companies. The money, which was transferred to non-profit foundations controlled by Soon-sil was allegedly used for personal gains. She was formally removed from office on March 10 after being impeached on December 9 by the South Korean Parliament.