Seoul, South Korea. Voters head to the polls with a lot on their minds to replace one president accused of corruption with another who must deal with a possible nuclear war, American missiles and Chinese anger at current national policy, as election 2017 gets underway in Korea.
Korean voters began voting today to elect a new leader, looking to move on from a corruption scandal that brought down former President Park Geun-hye and shook the political and business elite to the core in pay to play corruption for cash payments.
Unless there is a major upset, liberal Moon Jae-in,who is calling for a moderate approach on North Korea, wants to reform powerful family run business giants and boost national spending to create jobs, will likely be elected the next president of South Korea.
The vote will end months of leadership vacuum. Park was ousted on charges of bribery and abuse of power in March to become South Korea’s first democratically elected president to be forced from office. She and her lesbian partner are in jail, on trial for taking huge bribes.
Today’s winner is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday, after the Election Commission releases the official result. The new president is expected to quickly name a prime minister, who will need parliamentary approval, and main cabinet positions, including national security and finance ministers, which do not need parliamentary confirmation.
This election is being watched closely by allies and neighbors at a time of high tension over North Korea’s accelerating development of nuclear weapons since it conducted its fourth nuclear test in January last year. Pyongyang carried out a fifth test in September and is believed ready for another.
Korea’s new president will also face the challenge of defusing tension with China, which is angry about South Korea’s decision to deploy the US THAAD anti-missile defense system that China disaproves of as it can intercept communications in addition to providing a defense platform.