Liberal son of war refugees projected to win S. Korea vote

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Michaud Gael Getty Images "A better French future depends on a stronger Europe" Attali told The WorldPost

The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye has put tensions with North Korea on the backburner for many South Koreans voters.

Despite such outcry, analysts said Mr. Moon is expected to cruise to victory and that he has shown little sign of empathy toward the plight of the impeached president's supporters.

Six parties will be represented with most polls predicting a win for either Moon Jae-in, who represents the Democratic Party of Korea, or Ahn Cheol-soo, who is the chairman of the People's Party.

One in every four voters cast ballots in early voting last week, and officials think higher participation by younger people could drive turnout to the highest in three decades.

Why are people fired up?

South Koreans are poised to sweep away nearly a decade of conservative rule in an historic election today, with some unintended interference by US President Donald Trump late in the campaign helping to galvanise left-leaning voters.

Huge crowds had protested against Ms Park, amid anger over inequality and the perceived privilege of South Korea's elite.

Moon went on to lose the election to Park.

Last but not least, there's North Korea. The total number of seats is 300 and under the National Assembly Advancement Act even the majority party can not force through legislation without agreement of 60 per cent of the house (amounting to 180 votes).

The son of North Korean refugees, he waited in line as a boy in war-ravaged Busan for free USA corn flour and milk powder.

Who are the main candidates?

Mr Moon Jae In from the liberal Democratic Party is the clear front runner this time.

Similar worries surrounded Moon's friend, the late President Roh Moo-hyun, who was elected in 2002 on a pledge not to "kowtow" to Washington, though he later sent troops to Iraq at USA request and forged a free trade deal with the United States.

Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn was politically weak - as a loyal aide to Park - while his duties were mainly administrative. It has recently been alleged that in 2007, while he was working as an aid to Roh, Moon had suggested the Seoul government consult Pyongyang before deciding its position on a United Nations resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses.

Moon, Ahn and other candidates have both promised to reform the chaebols, which dominate the economy and have always been criticised for operating with little scrutiny from investors or regulators. But critics say hundreds of millions of dollars paid to North Korea over the years as wages for workers at Kaesong were used to fund the development of nuclear weapons and missiles. After the 2012 setback, Ahn briefly joined Moon's Democratic Party before leaving and creating his own party for parliamentary elections in April previous year. His spokesman called it "very inappropriate" as it stripped the next government of the right to make its own decision on the system.

The third leading contender, Ahn Cheol-soo, 55, of the centre-left People's Party is focusing last minute efforts on Daejeon and the Chungcheong provinces. He has cited his military experience when defending himself against charges from the conservatives that he is weak on North Korea and security issues. They 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. It's the first time early voting has been introduced in the country.

The U.S. has since walked back Trump's comments, with national security adviser H.R. McMaster confirming the U.S. will pay for the $1 billion system as originally agreed.

Image copyright KCNA Image caption North Korea is threatening to increase its nuclear and ballistic missile capacity What challenges lie ahead?

South Korean voters head to the polls to elect a new president on Tuesday, two months after a court upheld the impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal.

Many of them were outraged when the front-runner said "I don't like homosexuality" during a televised debate after a conservative candidate had pushed him on whether gays should be allowed to marry.

But the differences between Trump and Moon could in fact be helpful, said Ralph Cossa, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Pacific Forum.

The North Korea conundrum is a perpetual foreign policy headache for South Korea's leaders. Doing so could leave us in a situation where we've not only sacrificed our grounds for seeking North Korea's denuclearization, but also irreversibly ruined ties with China.

Rich Edson is a Washington correspondent for Fox News Channel.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world.