Liberal candidate Moon Jae In declared victory in South Korea's presidential election on Tuesday, ending almost a decade of conservative rule in the country.
Outspoken conservative Hong Joon-pyo, the candidate from Park's Liberty Korea Party, described the election as a war between ideologies and accused Moon of being aligned with North Korea.
The win by Moon ends a decade of conservative rule in South Korea and could result in sharp departures from recent policy toward nuclear-armed North Korea.
Moon told his jubilant supporters gathering at the Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul Tuesday night that he will become a president of all the people from Wednesday.
South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands in front of the media as his party leaders, members and supporters watch on television local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election at National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.
Hong and Ahn were expected to garner 23.3 percent and 21.8 percent, respectively, according to the exit poll, which had a margin of error of 0.8 percentage points. He told his party he would push for reform and national unity if confirmed as the next president.
Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye.
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"To counter the North Korean threat, I would like to reach an agreement with the new South Korean president on cooperation between Japan and South Korea, as well as on the trilateral cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States in the security sphere", Abe said, speaking in the budget committee of the parliament's lower chamber.
Following months of protests by millions and impeachment by lawmakers, Park was removed from office and arrested in March over corruption allegations.
South Korean National Election Commission officials sort out.
Moon Jae-in, a longtime opposition leader who favors closer ties with the North and China and a more cautious approach to USA relations, is expected to emerge victorious in Tuesday's presidential election.
"I am the best-prepared presidential candidate who can overcome the economic, security and diplomatic crises facing South Korea", Mr Moon proclaimed on TV.
Significantly, Moon even led in the conservative strongholds of North and South Gyeongsan provinces.
Mr Moon, who favours engagement with North Korea, will immediately be thrust into a tense stand-off between the USA and Pyongyang over dictator Kim Jong-un's ambitions to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] capable of striking America with a nuclear warhead.
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Mr Moon, the child of refugees who fled North Korea during the Korean War, will lead a nation shaken by a scandal that felled his conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who sits in a jail cell awaiting a corruption trial later this month. If Moon's win is confirmed, he's expected to reshape Seoul's policy on North Korea, by challenging the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system, THAAD, and opening talks with Pyongyang.
China, South Korea's largest trade partner, has raised concerns that THAAD's powerful radar could be used to peer deep into its territory and monitor its flights and missile launches.
In an editorial a day ahead of the vote, the JoongAng daily said the South's next leader would have to steer the country "against a myriad of immediate and long-term challenges".
The country is in dire need of strong leadership to deal with North Korea's growing missile threats, implement bold reforms to invigorate a sluggish economy and eradicate social evils linked to Park's corruption scandal.
"Cleanly eradicating the puppet conservative group that has committed intolerable crimes is the shortcut to new politics, new life and a new world", it said.
South Korea enacted a five-year single-term limit in 1987, and after Kim's five-year presidency ended in 2002, he was followed by Roh Moo-hyun, also a progressive.
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