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Moon Jae-in has been sworn in as South Korea’s new leader following his decisive win in the presidential election.

He vowed to address the economy and relations with North Korea in his first speech as president.

Moon Jae-in, 64, said that he would even be willing to visit Pyongyang under the right circumstances.

He took his oath of office in Seoul’s National Assembly building a day after his victory.

The former human rights lawyer and son of North Korean refugees is known for his liberal views.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula remain high and recent weeks have seen the US and North Korea trade angry rhetoric as speculation about another nuclear test grows.

Moon Jae-in has also vowed to unify a divided country reeling from a corruption scandal which saw his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, impeached.

In his inauguration speech, Moon Jae-in said he would “do everything I can to build peace on the Korean peninsula”.

Image source Wikipedia

“If needed I will fly to Washington immediately,” he said.

“I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang in the right circumstances.”

Moon Jae-in added that he would have “serious negotiations” with the US and China over the controversial deployment of anti-missile system THAAD.

North Korea has yet to officially comment on Moon Jae-in’s victory and remarks. It had previously hinted that Moon Jae-in was its preferred candidate.

The Democratic Party candidate has also promised to bolster the economy and address youth unemployment, which are key concerns for voters.

Moon Jae-in has been critical of the two previous conservative administrations, which took a hard-line stance against Pyongyang, for failing to stop North Korea’s weapons development.

Since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, there have only been two summits where the leaders of the two Koreas have met, both held in Pyongyang.

Moon Jae-in spearheaded preparations for the second meeting in 2007, when serving as a presidential aide.

The US, South Korea’s most important ally, has congratulated Moon Jae-in on his victory.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the US looked forward to continuing to “strengthen the alliance” and “deepen the enduring friendship and partnership”.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe said their countries faced common challenges “led by responses to the North Korean issue” but they could “further contribute to peace and prosperity of the region by working together”.

China’s President Xi Jinping said he “always attaches great importance to the relationship between China and South Korea”, and that he was “willing to diligently work with” with Moon Jae-in to ensure both countries benefit, reported Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

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.


President Park Geun-hye has become South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.

Judges unanimously upheld parliament’s decision to impeach Park Geun-hye over her role in a corruption scandal involving her close friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Park Geun-hye now loses her presidential immunity and could face criminal charges.

There have been angry scenes outside the court. Police said two protesters had died.

The court ruling is the culmination of months of political turmoil and public protest. An election must now be held within 60 days.

On March 10, Park Geun-hye’s office said she would not be leaving the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential palace, nor making any statement.

Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn has called for calm, saying the government should remain stable to prevent internal conflict from spreading.

At the heart of the drama lies Park Geun-hye’s close friendship with Choi Soon-sil.

Choi Soon-sil is accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to non-profit foundations she controlled.

Park Geun-hye is alleged to have been personally involved in this, and to have given Choi Soon-sil unacceptable levels of access to official documents.

Parliament voted to impeach Park Geun-hye in December 2016 and the Constitutional Court has since been deciding whether to uphold or overturn this.

On March 10, a panel of eight judges ruled Park Geun-hye’s actions “seriously impaired the spirit of… democracy and the rule of law”.

The court said the president had broken the law by allowing Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs, and had breached guidelines on official secrets by leaking numerous documents.

Park Geun-hye had “concealed completely Choi Soon-sil’s meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticized those who raised the suspicions,” it said.

However, the judges dismissed some charges, including accusations Park Geun-hye had infringed on freedom of the press by creating a media blacklist of cultural figures, and criticism of her response during the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.


South Korean President Park Geun-hye has denied following a religious cult as Choi Soon-sil scandal threatens to engulf her leadership.

In a TV address, Park Geun-hye apologized for allowing Choi Soon-sil, a long-standing friend of her, inappropriate access to government policy-making.

The president agreed to be questioned over the scandal but did not offer to resign.

Choi Soon-sil is suspected of using her friendship with the president to solicit donations to a non-profit fund she controlled.

She is now in detention facing charges of fraud and abuse of power.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

The main opposition party said Park Geun-hye’s apology lacked sincerity and it called on her to step back from state affairs.

Scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators demanding Park Geun-hye’s resignation in central Seoul on November 4.

Choi Soon-sil is the daughter of Choi Tae-min, a shadowy quasi-religious leader who was closely linked to Park Geun-hye’s father, then-president Park Chung-hee.

On November 4, Park Geun-hye went on TV to deny allowing cultish rituals to be held in the presidential palace.

“There have been claims that I fell for a religious cult or had [shamanist rituals] performed in the Blue House, but I would like to clarify that those are absolutely not true,” she said.

The president said she took sole responsibility for access to government documents and was willing to be investigated.

She had “put too much faith in a personal relationship and didn’t look carefully at what was happening”.

Anyone found to have done wrong would be punished, Park Geun-hye said, and “if necessary, I’m determined to let prosecutors investigate me and accept an investigation by an independent counsel too”.

The scandal has left the president with an approval rating of just 5%.

Park Geun-hye has already replaced her prime minster, reshuffled her cabinet and dismissed several aides, but there are growing calls for her resignation or impeachment.

Choo Mi-ae, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said Park Geun-hye did not believe the apology was genuine and called on her to accept a new prime minister recommended by parliament.

Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s first female president when she was elected in a close-run contest in December 2012.


Thousands of South Koreans have rallied in Seoul on October 29, demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-hye.

The protest comes after Park Geun-hye ordered 10 of her senior advisers to quit after admitting she had allowed an old friend to edit political speeches.

Choi Soon-sil, who holds no government job, is also suspected of meddling in policy-making and exploiting her links with the president for financial gain.

Park Geun-hye’s televised apology over the scandal last week sparked widespread accusations of mismanagement.

President Park Geun-hye has issued an apology to the nation after three officials of the country’s intelligence agency were charged with fabricating evidence in a spying case

Image source AP

Police said about 8,000 protesters took to the streets of Seoul on October 29. Organizers said some 20,000 people turned out.

Many held posters reading “Step down, Park Geun-hye”.

“Park has lost her authority as president and showed she doesn’t have the basic qualities to govern a country,” opposition politician Jae-myung Lee was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Park Geun-hye’s TV apology failed to defuse the situation.

The scandal has badly eroded the president’s popularity before next year’s elections, with some opposition parties calling on her to resign.

However, the row has not prevented Park Geun-hye from proposing that presidents be allowed to stand for a second consecutive term.

Park Geun-hye, 64, became the first woman to lead South Korea after winning presidential elections in 2012.

Choi Soon-sil is the daughter of shadowy religious cult leader Choi Tae-min, who was Park Geun-hye’s mentor until his death in 1994.

She left the country last month and is currently in Germany. She has denied in an interview with South Korean media benefiting financially from her government links.

Choi Soon-sil’s lawyer said she was well aware of the “gravity” of the situation and was willing to return to South Korea if summoned by prosecutors.


North Korea announces it has carried out a live-fire artillery drill simulating an attack on the official residence of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, known as the Blue House.

The exercise was overseen by Kim Jong-un, said the KCNA state news agency, who called on the military to be ready to “ruthlessly” destroy the government in South Korea.

It is the latest in a series of angry gestures by Pyongyang.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has ordered the army to be on alert.

Photo Wikimedia

Photo Wikimedia

However, Park Geun-hye said on March 24 that “reckless provocations will only become a path to self-destruction for the North Korean regime”.

North Korea has been reacting after the UN imposed some of its toughest sanctions following its nuclear and long-range rocket tests.

Pyongyang has also been angered, as it is annually, by joint US-South Korean military exercises taking place south of the border.

Already known for vitriolic language, the KCNA report threatened to turn South Korea’s presidential residence into a “sea of flames and ashes”.

“Artillery shells flew like lightning and intensely and fiercely struck targets simulating Cheong Wa Dae and rebel governing bodies in Seoul,” it said of the latest drill, using the Korean name for the Blue House.

It was not clear when the drill was carried out, but the report warned of a “miserable end” for President Park Geun-hye.

The Blue House (Cheongwadae) was attacked by North Korean commandos in 1968.

The attempt to assassinate then-President Park Chung-hee was unsuccessful, but seven South Koreans and most of the 31 North Koreans attackers were killed.