Can South Korea's New President Make Good on His Promises?

The Political Mess He Inherits

South Korea's president-elect Moon Jae-in speaks to supporters at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, South Korea, May 9, 2017. Reuters

Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer who formerly served as chief of staff to President Roh Moo-hyun, will be South Korea’s next president. He defeated two other candidates, winning roughly 41 percent of the vote on May 9 in a snap election, which was called in March after former President Park Geun-hye was removed from office following a corruption scandal. Moon, the liberal candidate, campaigned to clean up corruption, give minority shareholders of conglomerates more power to elect board members, create jobs, and promote small- to medium-size businesses. He also promised to open a dialogue with North Korea, repair relations with China, and continue strengthening South Korea’s alliance with the United States.

But given the political mess he will inherit from Park, it is unclear whether Moon will be able to make good on his promises. On top of the domestic crisis, he faces a tense regional security situation, with

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