Who will rule Seoul next?

Closer ties with Washington and less regard for Pyongyang are likely whoever wins March’s election, argues Aidan Foster-Carter

The World Today Published 4 February 2022 3 minute READ

Aidan Foster-Carter

Honorary Senior Research Fellow in sociology and modern Korea, Leeds University

Moon Jae-in is running out of time. South Korean presidents wield great power – but not for long. The 1987 Constitution of the Sixth Republic of Korea, which ended four decades of dictatorships, mandates a single five-year stint. No second term is allowed. 

The democracy thus created has proved robust, in several senses. Politics is fierce and hard-fought, but election results are respected. Power has regularly changed hands between Left and Right, in what has become a broadly two-party system.

Moon, a progressive, was elected in May 2017 after his conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye was impeached and later jailed for corruption. So, he has barely three months left in office. His successor will be elected on March 9 and enter the Blue House – Seoul’s equivalent of the White House – two months later, on May 9.

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