Home World Asia News South Korea Elections 2017: Country Goes to Poll to Elect New President

South Korea Elections 2017: Country Goes to Poll to Elect New President

Voters in South Korea are going to polls to elect a new president after a huge corruption scandal brought down the former leader, Park Geun-hye.

Liberal Moon Jae-in is the strong favorite with centrist Ahn Cheol-soo his nearest challenger.

South Korea’s economic issues are a big concern for voters but the election could see a shift in policy towards North Korea.

Moon Jae-in wants to increase contact with North Korea in contrast to impeached President Park Geun-hye who cut almost all ties.

A record turnout is predicted, with numbers boosted by younger voters, as South Koreans choose from 13 candidates.

Polls close at 20:00 local time, with the winner expected to be announced soon after. The new leader is likely to be sworn-in on May 10.

Heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks have made the perennial worries over the South’s volatile neighbor a key issue.

Moon Jae-in, of the Democratic Party of Korea, has advocated greater dialogue with North Korea while maintaining pressure and sanctions.

Both Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo have urged President Donald Trump to cool his rhetoric towards North Korea after his administration suggested it could take military action over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.


However, Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative governing Liberty Korea Party has attacked Moon Jae-in’s approach, saying last week that the election was a “war of regime choices”.

North Korea state media said it favored a return to an earlier era of communication and co-operation known as the Sunshine policy, seen as an endorsement of Moon Jae-in who was part of the previous South Korean government which promoted that policy.

All the candidates are promising to protect the fragile recovery in the country’s economy – the fourth largest in Asia – and to bring down youth unemployment, which remains stubbornly high.

There have been vows to reform the family-run conglomerates – chaebols – which dominate the domestic economy.

Whoever wins will have to tackle ties with China, which retaliated economically over the deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea.

All candidates have been promising a break from the past as symbolized by the deeply unpopular Park Geun-hye.