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Liberal Candidate Wins South Korea Presidential Election By Landslide

After a decade of conservative rule in South Korea, exit polls confirm that liberal candidate Moon Jae-in will win an election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye, The Independent reported Tuesday.

Moon’s victory signals a worldwide political shift and a rebuke of conservative policies, and it could mark a sharp change in policy towards North Korea – and the United States’ involvement in it. The liberal former lawyer campaigned on a platform of re-engaging with Pyongyang, favoring talks with the reclusive regime of Kim Jong Un, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Official results weren’t expected for hours, but the exit poll of about 89,000 voters at 330 polling stations, jointly commissioned by three major television stations and released just after polls closed, showed Moon receiving 41.4 percent of the vote.

The election follows the impeachment of former President Park Geun Hye in March over a corruption scandal.

His two main rivals, conservative Hong Joon-pyo and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, 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.

“I gave all my body and soul (to the election) to the very end,” Moon, 64, told reporters Tuesday after casting his ballot in Seoul.

Moon was chief of staff for the last liberal president, the late Roh Moo-hyun, who sought closer ties with North Korea by setting up large-scale aid shipments to the North and by working on now-stalled joint economic projects, according to The Hill.

Hong, an outspoken former provincial governor who pitched himself as a “Trump-like strongman,” described the election as a war between ideologies and questioned Moon’s patriotism.

After voting, Hong said the election was a “war of regime choices between people, whether they decide to accept a North Korea-sympathizing leftist government or a government that can protect the liberty of the Republic of Korea,” South Korea’s formal name.

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