Record turnout expected as South Korea votes for new leader


10 May, 2017

Moon told his jubilant supporters gathering at the Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul Tuesday night that he will become a president of all the people from Wednesday. "I lacked (the capability) to satisfy people's ardent wish for change".

Moon, of the Democratic Party, had 41.4% support, according to the joint survey by three television stations.

Hong and Ahn were expected to garner 23.3 percent and 21.8 percent, respectively, according to the exit poll, which had a margin of error of 0.8 percentage points.

"It remains a concern that the left of center, left-wing party in South Korea is going to do well", the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We will accomplish the two tasks given to us, reform and national unity that the people of this country desire".

Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, greets his supporters during his election campaign rally in Seoul.

Following months of protests by millions and impeachment by lawmakers, Park was removed from office and arrested in March over corruption allegations.

Moon Jae-in, a longtime opposition leader who favors closer ties with the North and China and a more cautious approach to US relations, is expected to emerge victorious in Tuesday's presidential election.

Tokyo hopes to consolidate cooperation with Seoul on addressing the threat posed by North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday amid the ongoing presidential election in South Korea. Many older people are wary of Moon's less confrontational stance on North Korea.

Both are hands-on when it comes to negotiations, with Trump mooting the idea of meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "under the right circumstances" and Moon saying Seoul must "take the lead" in dealing with the North.

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The election was called to choose a new president after Park Geun-Hye was ousted and indicted for corruption, and took place against a backdrop of high tensions with the nuclear-armed North.

Moon has also shown a willingness to challenge the United States, a key ally of South Korea, saying that Seoul should reconsider its deployment of an advanced US missile defense system to better cope with North Korean threats. Trump stressed the importance of the alliance with South Korea, but also said that South Korea should pay for the anti-missile THAAD system the USA has deployed on South Korean soil.

But Park's downfall over a corruption scandal - she was charged with bribery and other offences last month - is likely to propel Mr Moon, a former human rights lawyer, to the country's highest office in Tuesday's (May 9) presidential election.

Moon wants to strengthen the influence of minority shareholders in electing board members.

"Cleanly eradicating the puppet conservative group that has committed intolerable crimes is the shortcut to new politics, new life and a new world", it said.

Moon also likes to compare his own modest background to that of some of his billionaire rivals.

Park is awaiting trial over corruption for offering governmental favours to top businessmen - including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong - who bribed her secret confidante, Choi Soon-Sil.

In line with the terms of the deal, the Japanese government disbursed 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) previous year to a South Korean fund to help former comfort women and their families.

Experts said that the government may be able to build a reconciliatory mood this year as South Korea will host the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February 2018.

His campaign pledges on welfare include strengthening payment for working parents during maternity and paternity leaves, establishing more state-run childcare facilities, and increasing pension payments for the elderly and health insurance coverage for Alzheimer's and related disorders. He calls for stronger measures to prevent companies from discriminating against part-time or contract workers, who are becoming a larger part of the country's workforce but often have to put up with lower wages and harsher work conditions.

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