Asia Minute: South Korea’s Presidential Politics

Apr 10, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Security has been a focus on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks. But while North Korea has continued firing missiles and testing rocket engines, attention in South Korea is returning to politics. And how to deal with North Korea is one of the election issues. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


We’re now less than a month away from Election Day in a tightening race for South Korea’s presidency.

It was a month ago today that South Korea’s Constitutional Court formally removed President Park Geun-hye as a corruption scandal forced her from office.

Half a dozen candidates are running in the presidential election on May 9th. Two contenders lead the pack, and North Korea policy is definitely part of the campaign.

The head of the main opposition party, Moon Jae-in, jumped out to an early lead in the polls. Moon was runner up to Park in the last presidential election. His party is left of center; his tone toward North Korea more conciliatory.

He’s said he would review South Korea’s decision to deploy the U.S. anti-missile system known as THAAD—the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

Ahn Cheol-soo favors a tougher approach to North Korea, and last week said the U.S. should continue its installation of the THAAD system in South Korea.

According to a Gallup Korea survey out Friday, Moon still leads with 38 percent of voters. While Ahn’s support stood at 35 percent—nearly double his showing of a week earlier.

The third place candidate polling at 7 percent is Hong Joon-pyo, the candidate of the conservative Liberty Korea Party of former President Park Geun-hye.