South Korea’s liberal leader Moon Jae-in will take the oath of office as president on Wednesday, tasked with navigating the country out of rising geopolitical tensions over North Korea's nuclear programme and the risk of a rift with the United States.
Moon, 64, is expected to announce major cabinet and presidential staff appointments as early as Wednesday to swiftly end a power vacuum left by the March ouster of his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, in a corruption scandal. Moon was expected to forgo an elaborate inauguration ceremony.
Official results show Moon winning a decisive victory with the highest turnout in 20 years despite drizzly weather in South Korea. Moon won 41.1 percent of the votes compared with 24 percent for conservative candidate Hong Joon-pyo and 21.4 percent for centrist candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, according to National Election Commission data as of 0906 GMT.
“I will make a just, united country,” Moon told a crowd gathered just before midnight to see the former human rights lawyer who entered politics to lead a party just five years ago.
I will be a president who also serves all the people who did not support me.
Moon faces a divided parliament in which his own Democratic Party lacks a majority. To push through major initiatives, including creating 500,000 jobs annually and reforming the country's powerful family-run conglomerates, he will need to forge partnerships with some of the parties and politicians he fought fiercely on his path to the presidency.
(The story has been edited for length)