Concessions pave way for new South Korea leader

China's official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Tuesday a new South Korean leader should "demonstrate its readiness to ease tensions" by calling off deployment of the THAAD, "which has proved useless in thwarting Pyongyang's nuclear and missile activities".

No recent president-elect, however, has faced wreckage quite like this.

Liberal politician Moon Jae-in won South Korea's presidential election on Tuesday, exit polls showed, an expected victory that would end almost a decade of conservative rule and bring a more conciliatory approach toward North Korea.

North Korea's state-run media called on South Koreans voting on May 9 to ban conservatives from ever taking power again as leftist candidate Moon Jae-In claimed victory at the end of the day.

Moon has vowed to reduce the political influence of conglomerates known as chaebol in the wake of the turmoil. Just $5 a month.

Moon has called Park Geun-hye's hard-line North Korea policy a failure.

Her disgraceful exit does not eliminate the chasm between conservatives and liberals here.

The coverage was surprisingly lighthearted considering the gravity of the situation on the Korean peninsula. It may have grown further during the scramble by wounded conservatives to salvage some sort of political direction after her fall.

Many analysts say Moon likely won't pursue drastic rapprochement policies because North Korea's nuclear program has progressed significantly since he was in the Roh government a decade ago.

Meanwhile, North Korea's missile and nuclear program continues, unabated by worldwide sanctions and condemnation. The fear among some South Koreans is that THAAD is instigating or encouraging North Korea to organize a strike. This was all tried during a decade of earlier liberal rule, part of which was overseen by Moon's mentor, late President Roh Moo-hyun.

The campaign focused largely on the economy, with North Korea less prominent.

Both Parks were regularly targeted by virulent North Korean propaganda attacks.

Park is accused of accepting or pushing for tens of millions of dollars from big corporations, including Samsung, whose head is now jailed on related corruption charges.

Left-leaning Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, has held a commanding lead in opinion polls for months.

A memoir published by a former South Korean foreign minister months earlier suggested that Moon might be too friendly to North Korea. "It will depend on his presidential priorities and manpower to implement the reforms needed for the kind of "true" democracy desired by the people".

Despite the discord, Moon will be leading a country that can feel pride over its handling of the Park scandal. Guess we know who South Korea thinks will sit on the Iron Throne when GoT is all said and done.

"All countries have scandals; what matters is how they handle them".

Such a policy would represent "a sharp turn from South Korea's current tough approach" and risks putting Seoul on a "collision course" with Donald Trump, says CBC.

The concessions by conservative Hong Joon-pyo and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo came after exit polls forecast that Moon would win.

John Nilsson-Wright, senior lecturer in global relations at Cambridge University, told VICE News that Moon's more moderate approach could lead to increased tensions between Seoul and Washington, as the USA - accustomed to a compliant partner in South Korea - looks to put pressure on the North over its weapons programs.

Moon's supporters said his views aren't unusual in this deeply conservative country, where a powerful Christian lobby regularly presses lawmakers to oppose anti-discrimination laws, and where only one out of presidential candidates openly advocates for gay rights, according to the Associated Press.

Even so, the job will not be easy.

Moon said he had "poured every last drop of energy" into the campaign, reassuring voters he was in good health despite sporting bruises on his hands and arms from being jostled in crowds during campaigning. The United States has about 28,500 troops in South Korea.

  • Joey Payne