How exit poll works in South Korean president election

The ballot was called to choose a new president after Park Geun-Hye was ousted and indicted for corruption, and took place against a backdrop of high tensions with the nuclear- armed North.

South Koreans voted Tuesday in a presidential election a conservative candidate declared a "war of regime choices" in stark contrast to the liberal front-runner looking to overturn a decade of right-leaning rule.

Polls are set to close at 8 p.m. (1100 GMT) - two hours later than in 2012.

"If the outcome of the exit poll is true, I will be happy to have rebuilt the party that had collapsed", Hong said.

"I will make a just, united country", he said.

"We will accomplish the two tasks given to us, reform and national unity that the people of this country desire".

The National Election Commission is expected to formally announce the victor of the snap election at around 10 am on Wednesday, after which he will be immediately sworn in as president to serve a full five-term, without any transition period.

A Gallup Korea poll last week showed Moon had 38 percent support in a field of 13 candidates, with centrist Ahn Cheol-soo his nearest challenger on 20 percent.

Quite how far Moon can take Korea to the left will be a matter for debate for some time to come, but what is already clear is this: a time of great change lies ahead.

A plurality of votes is enough for victory. "I voted for Hong, as security (against North Korea) is the most important thing", he told AFP.

Hong said in a televised address that he will accept the election result and be satisfied with restoring his party.


The new South Korean president will still serve out a full, single five-year term. He has said he would skip a lavish inauguration ceremony and start work straight away. He is likely to quickly name a prime minister, who will need parliamentary approval, and the main cabinet positions, including national security and finance ministers, which do not need parliamentary confirmation.

Moon has promoted engagement with the north.

Unless there is a major upset, liberal Moon Jae-in - who calls for a moderate approach on North Korea, wants to reform powerful family-run conglomerates and boost fiscal spending to create jobs - will be elected president.

This won't help Moon with conservatives, many of whom look with shock at his proposals for a softer approach, including possible aid, possible direct talks with dictator Kim Jong Un, and the possible return of massive inter-Korean projects.

He advocates a two-track policy of seeking dialogue with North Korea while maintaining pressure and sanctions to encourage change. His victory was bolstered by strong support from younger people, according to the exit polls. Many of his supporters participated in big, peaceful weekend rallies over the last few months of 2016 and early this year, demanding Park step down. Moon secured 10,659,059, or 40.0 percent out of the 32,808,577 votes as of 2:10 a.m. on Wednesday with 81.5 percent of the votes counted.

The Moon government is expected to transform policy toward North Korea. Guess we know who South Korea thinks will sit on the Iron Throne when GoT is all said and done. But Washington is anxious his moderate stance could undercut efforts to increase pressure and sanctions, senior South Korean officials said.

A Moon victory would be expected to improve market sentiment at a time when exports are supporting an economic recovery in Asia's fourth largest economy.

Nilsson-Wright said a Moon administration would likely be sensitive to the importance of being seen to be consulted over such matters.

The election was closely watched by allies and neighbors at a time of high tension over North Korea's accelerating development of weapons since it conducted its fourth nuclear test in January a year ago. It conducted a fifth test in September and is believed to be preparing for another.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to stop North Korea developing a nuclear missile that can hit the United States.


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