May 10, 2017
President-elect Moon Jae-in waves to his supporters in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Tuesday. / Korea Times photo by Wang Tae-seok

Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party was elected South Korea's new president early Wednesday.

He will begin his five-year term with confirmation of his victory by the National Election Commission (NEC). The former human rights lawyer secured some 11.4 million, or 40.2%, of all votes counted as of 2:37 a.m., according to the commission.

He had a 4.3 million vote lead over runner-up Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, with less than 4.2 million votes cast in the election remaining uncounted.

The final turnout was 77.2%, slightly higher than the previous election's 75.8%; but short of reaching the expected 80% mark.

The NEC plans to review the final result between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday. If it finds nothing wrong with the outcome, the watchdog will declare Moon as the official winner. With the declaration, Moon will be immediately sworn in as president, without the luxury of a transition period.

Moon has garnered support with promises of a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption and injustice.

His campaign pledges appealed more than those of his rivals because the snap presidential election came with the still vivid memory of the sprawling corruption and influence-peddling scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil, which led to Park's historic dismissal by the Constitutional Court, March 10.

President-elect Moon Jae-in throws his hands up to the sky and waves his hand before his supporters at the National Assembly in Seoul, Tuesday. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

'Victory of longing'

Moon appeared at the National Assembly smiling shortly after the exit polls were released at 8 p.m.

Seemingly moved by the overwhelming support, he threw his hands up to the sky and gave his symbolic thumbs-up gesture, prompting thunderous applause from party members and supporters there.

“This crushing victory was expected and is a victory of longing,” Moon told jubilant party members. “'I will achieve reform and national unity, the two missions that our people long for.”

He went on: “The results will come in hours, but I truly believe that today is the day that opens the gateway to a new Korea. I will embody the public's passion. Your sweat and tears will never be forgotten within me.”

He asked the people: “Stay with us for the success of the third democratic government, the government of the Democratic Party of Korea, and the people's longing for reform and unity to finish what we have started.”

Exit polls project Moon's crushing victory

Moon was projected to win a landslide victory in exit polls released 8 p.m. Tuesday.

He mustered 41.4% support out of 89,000 voters at 330 polling stations in a survey conducted by South Korea's three major broadcasters -- KBS, MBC and SBS.

Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party trailed with support of 23.3% while Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party had 21.8%.

Yoo Seong-min of the conservative Bareun Party and Sim Sang-jung of the progressive Justice Party garnered 7.1% and 5.9%, respectively.

Source:The Korea Times

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