South Koreans went to the polls on Tuesday and elected Moon Jae-in, a center-left human rights lawyer, capping a remarkable yearlong national drama that brought mass street protests and the impeachment and imprisonment of former President Park Geun-hye.
Hundreds of readers responded to the election results, telling us that they hoped to see the country mend the political and social divisions that widened during the impeachment of Ms. Park. They also expressed concerns about what they see as entrenched economic corruption and an intractable threat from North Korea. Here is a small sampling of their thoughts.
Time to move on and clean up
“After a year of soul searching, candlelight vigils, real drama (you did not have to watch any soap operas on television), and impeachment of a sitting president, it is about time for the nation to move forward.
“To be sure, the conservatives will continue to raise objections, but Moon Jae-in now has the mandate of the people and he must deliver on his promises. I expect him to engage in peaceful dialogue with the North, clean up the graft among family-owned mega corporations (chaebol), and find ways to strengthen the role of civil society in promoting gender equality, addressing social inequalities, and combating poverty/social exclusion.”
— Theodore Jun Yoo, 45, Seoul
“Let’s hope that he will help South Korea move on from his predecessor’s corruption, steer the nation through economic difficulties, and offer solid leadership in the face of North Korea’s threats.”
No clear path for dealing with the North
“Even though I am a rather conservative and voted for one of the conservative candidates, I am not dissatisfied with the result …. The most critical issue facing South Korea is North Korea’s attempt to carry out its nuclear and missile tests. I assume that Mr. Moon will create a peaceful atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula through talks with the North and the close cooperation with the U.S., resulting in a more stability on the peninsular and economic growth.”
— Yoon-jeong Lee, 49, Seoul
“The result from Tuesday’s election is an extension of the impeachment process. It’s something that I dearly wanted to avoid, but also something that I could see happening.
“At the same time, I am still shocked. I thought the debates would prove to be a bigger influence especially since we had such a short time leading up to the elections. Moon didn’t seem reliable in any field, whether it be security or economy. …
“I don’t believe we can solve North Korea’s nuclear threat through dialogue. We tried — and for 10 years, too. It didn’t work. Did taking a harder stance against North Korea work? I believe so. … Kim is not going to give…