SEOUL, South Korea — Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States.
Moon, whose victory capped one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation’s recent history and set up its first liberal rule in a decade, began his duties as president after the National Election Commission officially declared him as winner after a morning meeting.
The election body had finished counting votes as of 6 a.m. and said Moon gathered 41 percent of the votes, comfortably edging conservative Hong Joon-pyo and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, who gathered 24 percent and 21 percent of the votes, respectively.
“The National Election Commission, based on the first clause of Article 187 of the Public Official Election Law, determines that the Democratic Party’s Moon Jae-in, who gathered the largest number of valid votes, was elected as president,” NEC Chairman Kim Yong-deok said in the televised meeting.
Shortly after the NEC declared him as winner, Moon, as the new commander in chief of the country’s military, received a call from Army Gen. Lee Sun-jin, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, who briefed him on the military’s preparedness against North Korea, a Democratic Party official said.
Moon also during the morning was expected to visit the National Cemetery in the central city of Daejeon, where the country’s independence fighters and war heroes are buried, before returning to capital Seoul around noon to take an oath of office at the National Assembly.
There were also expectations that Moon would announce his nominee for prime minister, the country’s No. 2 job that requires approval from lawmakers, and name his presidential chief of staff during the day.
South Korea might see a sharp departure from recent policy under Moon, who favors closer ties with North Korea, saying hard-line conservative governments did nothing to prevent the North’s development of nuclear-armed missiles and only reduced South Korea’s voice in international efforts to counter North Korea.Washingtonpost