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Abe Wants to Strengthen Cooperation With Seoul to Counter N Korea Threat

He called for reforms to clean up social inequalities, excessive presidential power and corrupt ties between politicians and businesses. Or will he end up yet another in a growing list of disgraced South Korean leaders?

"I will be president for all South Koreans", he told cheering supporters on Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, where vast crowds gathered over several months to demand the removal of his predecessor over a huge corruption scandal. She is in jail, on trial.

Moon was a strong proponent of the "Sunshine Policy", an attempt to improve relations between the two Koreas from 1998 to 2008, and served as chief of staff to former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

The 64-year-old - accused by his critics of being soft on North Korea - advocates dialogue to ease tensions and to bring it to negotiations.

The poll says moon's conservative rival Hong Joon-pyo had trailed with 23-percent support.

As if this could get any more fantastic, they were also shown dabbing as the voting percentages were announced during a skit which pitted them as hip-hop artists vying for the win in a reality competition series.

South Korea's election body says almost 64 percent of the country's 42.4 million eligible voters cast their ballots as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, representing a faster pace than the previous presidential election in 2012.

One in every four voters cast ballots in early voting last week, and officials think higher participation by younger people could drive turnout to the highest in three decades.

Moon believes better inter-Korean relations is the best way to provide security.

The won KRW= is up almost 7 percent against the dollar this year, while South Korean shares .KS11 are trading at a record high as foreign investors feel confident about corporate earnings after South Korean businesses did well in the first quarter.

The frustration many South Koreans feel with collusion and graft pushed Moon to victory.

With 80 percent of the votes counted at 1705 GMT, Moon was ahead with 40 percent, according to the National Election Commission.

He is likely to quickly name a prime minister, who will need parliamentary approval, and main cabinet positions, including national security and finance ministers, which do not need parliamentary confirmation.

The election is being watched closely by allies and neighbors at a time of high tension over North Korea's accelerating development of weapons since it conducted its fourth nuclear test in January previous year.

Moon said in a YouTube live stream on Tuesday that South Korea should take on a more active diplomatic role to curb North Korea's nuclear threat and not watch idly as the United States and China talk to each other.

There's concern that the economy will likely take a back seat to North Korea when South Koreans pick their next leader on Tuesday. Its official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary on Monday the time had come to put confrontation behind by ending conservative rule in the South.

"Cleanly eradicating the puppet conservative group that has committed intolerable crimes is the shortcut to new politics, new life and a new world", it said.

"Things are not right to resume the so-called Sunshine Policy, as the US and China turned more hostile towards North Korea", said Koh Yu-hwan, Dongguk University professor of North Korean studies, who is serving as a foreign policy adviser to Moon. I hope to work together with them in the future to create a new Korea.

"This increased willingness to be more assertive in defending South Korea's interests even if that means disagreeing with the US will likely fuel tensions with President Donald Trump's administration".

Park had decided not to vote, despite having the right to do so because she has not been convicted, media reported.

Voting stations are set to close at 8 p.m. and South Korean TV stations plan to release the results of their joint exit polls soon after the vote ends and are expected to predict a victor before midnight.



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