A graft prosecutor turned opposition leader in South Korea has won an extremely close presidential race, reinstating conservatives to power calling for a more confrontational stance against North Korea and a stronger alliance with the United States.
The opposition leader, Yoon Suk-yeol, was leading by a margin of 263,000 votes when his opponent conceded early Thursday.
“This was not an election for the future but an election looking back to judge the Moon administration,” said Prof. Ahn Byong-jin, a political scientist in Seoul.
“By electing Yoon, people wanted to punish Moon’s government they deemed incompetent and hypocritical and to demand a fairer society,” Prof. Ahn added.
“Peace is meaningless unless it is backed by power,” Yoon said during the campaign.
Yoon said he would show “strategic clarity,” and favor Washington over China.
However, many young people were anxious about the future.
“We are the betrayed generation,” said Kim Go-eun, 31.
“We have been taught that if we studied and worked hard, we would have a decent job and economically stable life. None of that has come true,” Go-eun added.
And many voters felt they were left with an unappealing choice.
“We may not be completely satisfied with Yoon, but he is the only hope we’ve got,” said Kim Seong-heon, 26, a university student in Seoul.
“It was not about whom you liked better but about whom you hated less,” said Jeong Sang-min, 35, a logistics official at an international apparel company.
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