Last night, Saenuri Party presidential candidate Park Geun Hye was declared the winner of South Korea’s 18th presidential election, securing a little more than 50% of the popular vote and ascending to become the Korean Peninsula’s first female leader.
Park won after securing 14.15 million of the available votes, a difference of 980,000 votes over her liberal opponent Moon Jae In, who polled 13.16 million. Her victory means that South Korea will now see ten consecutive years of conservative government.
Speaking briefly at an event at Gwanghwamun, Seoul after being officially declared the winner, Park commented, “This election was a victory the people of this country,” before adding, “I will become a president for the people’s livelihoods, one who brings the promises she made to the people to fruition, and will open the new era that the people have been hoping for.”
Meanwhile, Park’s opponent Moon conceded defeat in a short speech at Democratic United Party headquarters, apologizing for his failure to meet the expectations of the millions who supported him.
One of the most surprising parts of the result concerned the turnout. It had been predicted that a turnout of more than 73% would be highly advantageous to Moon, but this prediction was not borne out by the final tally, where Park won despite a turnout of 75.8%; 30,722,912 people voted out of a possible 40,507,842.
This total is 4.9% lower than the turnout in 1997 when Kim Dae Jung became the first liberal president in South Korean history, but was higher than in either 2002, when Roh Moo Hyun won in an election with a 70.8% turnout, or 2007, when Lee Myung Bak won in an election in which just 63% of registered voters made a choice.