10 May 2017

Liberal claims win in South Korean election

5:31 am on 10 May 2017

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in has claimed victory in South Korea's presidential election.

South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in (R) of the Democratic Party greets his supporters as they gather to watch broadcast of the presidential election results

South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in greets his supporters as they gather to watch broadcast of the presidential election results Photo: AFP

Mr Moon favours greater dialogue with North Korea, in a change to current South Korean policy.

"I will be president for all South Koreans," he told cheering supporters in Gwanghwamun Square in the capital Seoul.

The early election was called after a corruption scandal led to the impeachment of the former president.

Park Geun-hye is accused of allowing a close friend to extort money from companies. She denies all wrongdoing.

Official results have yet to be released.

An exit poll conducted jointly by three network TV stations had put him on course to get 41.4 percent of the vote, with his nearest challenger, conservative Hong Joon-Pyo, on 23.3 percent.

Mr Moon is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday.

Who is Moon?

The son of refugees from North Korea, Mr Moon was jailed while a student in the 1970s for leading protests against military ruler Park Chung-hee - Ms Park's father.

Later, he served in South Korea's special forces before becoming a human rights lawyer.

He served as a senior aide to liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, who committed suicide in 2009 after leaving office amid bribery allegations.

Mr Moon, of the centre-left Democratic Party, unsuccessfully ran against Ms Park in 2012 elections.

He has positioned himself as the man who can move the country on from the scandals of Ms Park's era.

"I feel that not only my party and myself but also the people have been more desperate for a change of government," he said while casting his vote.

What are his policies?

Mr Moon has advocated greater dialogue with the North while maintaining pressure and sanctions, in contrast to Ms Park who cut almost all ties.

He has been critical of the two previous conservative administrations for failing to stop North Korea's weapons development.

But while tensions on the Korean peninsula ensured the election was closely watched, for South Koreans the priority has been corruption and the economy, with youth unemployment stubbornly high.

Mr Moon has talked of reforming South Korea's huge family-run conglomerates, known as chaebols, which dominate the domestic economy.

-BBC

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