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South Korea looks past Park as country votes in presidential election

Left-leaning former lawyer set to be voted in by electorate galvanised by feeling over dishonesty scandal that delivered down Park Geun-hye

South Koreans have gone to the polls to select a new chairperson after Park Geun-hye was ousted and indicted for dishonesty, against a background of high strains with the North.

Voters are galvanised by feeling over the sprawling bribery and abuse of power scandal that delivered down Park and catalysed thwartings over employment creation and slowing growing.

Left-leaning Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, has held a commanding lead in opinion poll for months. The final Gallup Korea survey of the campaign put him on 38%, ahead of technology entrepreneur Ahn Cheol-soo with 20%.

After casting his poll, Moon mentioned: I feel the peoples of the territories strong will to change the government We can make it a reality before they are vote.

Hong Joon-pyo of Parks Liberty Korea party, who the opinion poll had in third place on 16%, out of a land of 13, advocated voters to support him and called Moon a pro-Pyongyang leftist.

A record turnout was expected, with 63.7% of voters casting their votes four hours before the polls closed, compared with 59.3% at the same phase five years ago.

Kim Sun-chul, 59, told you he voted for Moon because this country needs to restore democracy, which has been so undermined by the Park government.

National elections are public holidays in South Korea and nearly 14,000 voting stations opened at 6am local day on Tuesday( 2200 BST on Monday ). Exit poll outcomes will be available following the end of voting closes at 8p m.

Why Park Guen-hye was impeached explainer

The campaign has focused largely on the economy, with North koreans less prominent. But after a decade of republican regulation, a Moon victory could lead to a sea change in Seouls approach towards Pyongyang and Washington, a key ally.

Moon, 64, who is accused by his reviewers of being soft on the North, has advocated talk to ease strains and deliver Pyongyang towards mediations. He is seen as preferring more independence in relations with the US, Seouls security guarantor, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea.

Their presence, he told reporters during the campaign, was important not only to our own security, but also to the world strategy of the US.

North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests and a series of rocket launches since the start of 2016 in its quest to develop a missile capable of burning a nuclear warhead as far as the US mainland.

Washington said last month that military action is an option, triggering dreads of a major conflict.

More recently, the US president, Donald Trump, has softened his content, “says hes” “wouldve been” honoured to meet the Norths leader, Kim Jong-un.

Moon has also said he would be willing to visit Pyongyang to meet Kim and preaches the resumption of some of the inter-Korean jobs closed by politicians in the South, including the Kaesong industrial zone.

In Seouls prosperous Seocho district, Dr Chung Tae-ean, 72, backed Moons republican foe Hong, announcing protection is most important.

But for many South Korean voters, dishonesty, slowing growing, unemployment and air pollution from China top the list of concerns.

South Koreas rapid growth from the 1970 s-9 0s drew the war-ravaged country out of poverty, but the rate slowed as the economy grew. Unemployment among under-3 0s now stands at a record 10%.

Frustration over widening inequality in affluence and opportunities fuelled feeling over the Park scandal, which disclosed the cosy and corrupt ties between regulators and chaebols ( family owned conglomerates) that have braved for decades.

Park is awaiting experiment accused of committing offering governmental prefers to resulting businessperson, including the Samsung heir, Lee Jae-yong, who allegedly bribed her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Moon, Ahn and other candidates have promised to reform the chaebols, which dominate the economy and have all along been been criticized for operating with little investigation.

Another issue is the relationship with Beijing, which imposed a series of measures seen as economic retaliation over its implementation of the US anti-missile system Thaad in the South.

In an election day editorial, the JoongAng daily mentioned South Korea had been left adrift by the acute divide and absence of national leadership arising as a result of the dishonesty scandal and Parks impeachment. The poll, it mentioned, was a great opportunity to put the troubled commonwealth back on track.

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