With the election of Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer, the liberals return to power in South Korea after a decade. University of Michigan experts can comment on the implications on some key issues:
John Ciorciari is an associate professor at the Ford School of Public Policy. His research focuses on Southeast Asia and examines foreign policy strategies, human rights and the reform of international economic institutions.
"South Korean domestic politics have long been a key swing factor in the international politics of East Asia, because liberal and conservative leaders have had very different views on how to approach Pyongyang and manage relations with Washington, Beijing and Tokyo," he said.
"Moon's election portends more pushback against the Trump administration's hawkish policies toward the DPRK and more public scrutiny of the THAAD missile defense system. It may also unsettle the recent rapprochement South Korea and Japan. China stands to gain if Moon pushes to loosen the noose on North Korea and edge away from Abe and Trump, but whether these shifts will benefit the region as a whole is tough to predict. Thus far, neither engagement nor suffocation has worked well in dealing with the North Korean problem."
Hyun-Soo Ahn is a professor at the Ross School of Business. He develops and analyzes mathematical models on supply chain management, pricing and revenue management, workforce agility and resource allocation.
"There will be a considerable change in the strategy and approach toward North Korea after this election," he said. "The Moon administration is likely to adopt pragmatic approaches that were pursued in the Noh and DJ periods (1998-2008) rather than hard-line approaches pursued in the previous administration. The Gae-sung industrial park is likely to re-open. At the same time, diplomatic channels will be used to resolve the nuclear threat.
"In the last few days before the election, the comments of President Trump and National Security Adviser McMaster that South Korea should pay for the THAAD (missile defense) angered many Koreans. It was a key issue during the presidential debates. In the short term, Moon's supporters expect the new administration will stand its ground."