Moon Jae-in is the 19th president of South Korea

The Democratic candidate won 41.1% of the votes. Promises the end of the "imperial" style of the presidency. The challenges of unemployment and economic growth. A policy of détente with North Korea. Greetings from the United States, Japan, China.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Early this morning, Democrat Moon Jae-in was sworn in as the 19th president of the country promising a more united nation after the scandals that overwhelmed his predecessor Park Geun-hye and to open greater channels of dialogue with the population and with North Korea.

Moon was elected with 41.1% of the vote. Conservative Hong Joon-pyo, from the party of the former president, took 23.3; centrist Ahn Cheol-soo 21.8%.

At the inauguration ceremony in front of the National Assembly, he said he wanted to be the president of all people even those who did not vote for him.

In his first message to the nation, he said he wanted to work for "a new world of unity and coexistence" with "a fearful but humble heart before history and the people."

Moon also promised to move the seat of the presidency to Gwanghwamun, in central Seoul, to bring to an end an "imperial" and isolated style in the exercise of power. "At times, I will hold large debates on Gwanghwamun Square. I will share the president's imperial powers as much as possible," he said."  "If necessary, I will fly straight to Washington," he said. "I will go to Beijing and Tokyo and under the right circumstances go to Pyongyang as well.

Moon, 64, a child refugee from North Korea and a Catholic, has been in jail and was a human rights lawyer under General Park's dictatorship. He was also a close associate of Democratic President Roh Moo-hyun during a period (2003-2008), where the country doubled the GDP and held a policy of detente with its northern neighbors.

Moon faces a social situation with the population frustrated by corruption scandals, marked by youth unemployment and the slowdown in growth. At the same time, he wants to reopen the so-called "Sunshine" policy, implemented by Democratic President Kim Dae Jung, of economic cooperation and relations with North Korea.

During the election campaign he criticized the United States' belligerent attitude and said he wanted to redesign the Thaad anti-missile system being fiercely criticized by Pyongyang and China.


Among the first congratulations to arrive on his election are those of the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, who hopes to continue "strengthening the alliance" and "deepening the long friendship and collaboration".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, recalling that the two nations are faced with common challenges, such as "the North Korean problem," hoped that they could "contribute even more to the peace and prosperity of the region by working together".

In a congratulatory message, President Xi Jinping said he "has always attached great importance to relations between China and South Korea" and "wants to work diligently" along with Moon to ensure common benefits to the two countries.

A few days ago North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun augured the victory of a person open to the distension in relations between the North and the South, conceivably referring to Moon. But so far it has not published any official response  to his victory.